Pretoria – Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has condemned the manner in which the South African Police Service (SAPS) spectacularly arrested Advocate Malesela Teffo in the Pretoria High Court where he was representing five men accused of the 2014 Senzo Meyiwa murder.
“There was no justifiable reason why the SAPS could not have waited for Advocate Teffo to leave the court room and the court premises before they could arrest him. After all, as I understand the position, the warrant of arrest had been issued about two months earlier and waiting until Advocate Teffo had left the court premises would not have made any difference,” said Zondo.
“Advocate Teffo was not going to spend the evening in the court room. The conduct of the SAPS in effecting the arrest inside the court room and the manner in which the arrest was effected on a legal practitioner and, therefore, on an officer of the court, was an assault on the dignity of the court and the judiciary.”
The Chief Justice said Teffo, an officer of the court, was arrested in a manner that was “totally unacceptable and showed disrespect” for the judiciary.
“Section 165 (4) of the Constitution places an obligation on all organs of state, including the SAPS, through legislative and other measures, to “assist and protect the courts to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of the courts,” said Zondo.
On Friday, the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court cancelled the warrant of arrest which was issued in January against Teffo.
In the Hillbrow court, Teffo told the magistrate, through his attorney, advocate Tshepo Thobane, that he had skipped the January 27 court date because he had Covid-19.
The court cancelled the warrant of arrest, and postponed the hearing for the unspecified offence to May 27.
Teffo faces charges of trespassing, after he allegedly visited the SAPS offices in Gauteng.
The case is unrelated to the Meyiwa murder trial, according to reports.
The videos of police officers mobbing the lawyer shortly after the adjournment of the Meyiwa murder trial on Thursday has trended, with many questioning the police’s seemingly heavy-handed actions.
Teffo was arrested in full view of journalists who were in court to report on the murder trial. Teffo, who is a former police officer, was handcuffed by the SAPS officers and taken away.
When asked why he was arrested, Teffo told journalists that Cele was behind his arrest and that he was being arrested for being involved in the Meyiwa murder trial.