Top Durban lawyer cries foul over judge’s ruling
Durban - A JUDGMENT handed down by Eastern Cape High Court Judge John Smith on October 15 is being questioned.
Judge Smith, under the Western Cape High Court, last month ruled the bank account of top Durban lawyer Barnabas Xulu’s law firm be frozen, and his Sheffield Beach property and Porsche be seized, when he was not entitled to do, according to Xulu.
Court documents dated June 8 and signed by Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlope, which Independent Media’s special investigation unit has seen, confirmed Judge Smith was not deployed in the Western Cape at the time he granted the order and that his term had expired months prior.
Xulu believed the order was obtained during a time when Judge Smith “had no business in the Western Cape” and claims there was no proof he was sitting in the Cape Town court at the time of the ruling.
Xulu’s recent second urgent application to halt the court order, a week after his first application was unsuccessful, was again dismissed when Judge Hayley Slingers refused to set aside Judge Smith’s rulings.
The order comes after Xulu’s legal firm failed to pay the State R20.2 million the court believed the firm was not entitled to after the discovery of alleged fraudulent signatures in the service level agreement papers between Xulu’s law firm and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in May 2017.
Xulu had previously stated he believed the dismissal of his law firm and claims of fake signatures was a personal vendetta against him by the department because of his work with law enforcement agencies to combat undue influence, maladministration, criminality and corruption in the DAFF.
Judge Smith said Judge Slingers had delivered judgment.
“I have nothing further to add.”
Leon Manuel, the State’s attorney, also refused to comment.
DAFF said the hearings before Judge Smith were conducted virtually.
A source, who did not want to be named, said Xulu was given 72 hours’ notice on October 12 before the judgment was to be made over the freezing of his bank accounts and seizing of his assets.
Three days later Judge Smith issued the court order.
Xulu’s attorney wrote to Judge John Hlophe on the same day: “ … This order was executed, at least in part, before our client even received notice thereof,” Xulu’s attorney said, disputing the judgment.