High Court judge refers absent advocate to Legal Practice Council
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Cape Town – A string of “unauthorised absences” by a lawyer for two of four accused people during a long-running case “plagued by postponements” before the Western Cape High Court has forced a judge to refer the advocate to the Legal Practice Council (LPC) for an administrative investigation and possible disciplinary action.
The referral to the LPC of advocate Andile Gladile by Judge Patrick Gamble came on top of Gladile’s request to withdraw from the case and a string of delays in connection with, among other things, flooded cells, chronic illness and a funeral.
Making a ruling on whether Gladile could withdraw from the case, Judge Gamble gave a list of the most recent woes affecting the case.
The trial began on August 3, and was set down to run until August 31. By Thursday, September 9, the court had heard the evidence of only three witnesses.
The first postponement of the trial occurred on August 4 when Gladile was absent with an upset stomach. The following day Gladile was absent yet again but sent the court a message to say he had been booked off and the case was postponed to Tuesday as the Monday was a public holiday.
That Tuesday, proceedings were delayed due to the late arrival of Gladile, who told the court that the taxi transporting him had been delayed.
On Thursday, August 12, the prosecutor requested that the matter be adjourned in order that he and others could attend the funeral of a fellow member from the offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
On the following Monday the court interpreter needed to go for a Covid-19 test, so the matter stood down until the next day.
When the following day Gladile was 35 minutes late without an apology or explanation, the judge warned him that a formal inquiry for contempt of court would be considered.
On Friday, September 3, Gladile withdrew from the case as he was involved in another case in the Eastern Cape.
Judge Gamble said: “I do not believe that it will be in the interests of justice for Gladile to continue representing the accused. He has a very poor record of timekeeping, something which is not in the interests of the accused or the other parties involved in this litigation.
“Bluntly put, I believe that permitting Gladile to withdraw is likely to significantly enhance the pace at which this trial progresses, and that will be to the benefit of the court and the accused.
“I should apologise to the accused who have been in custody now for almost five years. It is unacceptable to the court that there have been delays in the litigation caused by counsel who has acted only in furtherance of his own selfish interests.
’’I trust that such a situation will not arise again in the finalisation of this matter,” said Judge Gamble.