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Advocate Malesela Teffo vows to sue police over dramatic court arrest

Police arrested advocate Malesela Teffo, the legal representative of four of the accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial. File Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Police arrested advocate Malesela Teffo, the legal representative of four of the accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial. File Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Published May 4, 2022

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Pretoria – The defence attorney for four men accused of killing Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, advocate Malesela Teffo, will be suing the SAPS after his arrest in court last week for a trespassing charge.

“They just wanted to distract him … and we are going to sue. The only reason why we sue, it is not about Teffo not attending the court, they might be right on that one. The issue here is the timing, the place, the moment and the manner he was arrested,” Teffo’s lawyer Timothy Thobane told eNCA.

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Last week’s dramatic arrest inside the high court in Pretoria shocked many South Africans. Several police officers, including tactical units, mobbed Teffo after the Meyiwa murder trial had adjourned. The advocate was handcuffed and led away in full view of television broadcasters that were covering the Meyiwa trial.

In response to the outrage and criticism of the police’s heavy-handedness, the SAPS issued a statement, saying they had intended to arrest Teffo outside court.

“While the intention was to execute the warrant outside the courtroom, the manner in which the events unfolded made it challenging for the team. According to the investigating officer, as soon as the court adjourned, the investigating officer approached the advocate who was making his way towards the court door,” said national police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe.

“It is important to highlight that after informing the advocate of the execution of the warrant of arrest and informing him of his rights, the advocate went back into the courtroom. The investigating officer then followed him back inside the court room in a bid to ensure that the latter complied with the contents of the warrant of arrest.”

Mathe said Teffo “did not co-operate with the investigating officer which warranted the call for the assistance of the Tactical Response Team members who were already posted in the same court for escort duties”.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has condemned the manner in which Teffo was arrested.

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“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 courtroom. The conduct of the SAPS in effecting the arrest inside the courtroom 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 was arrested in a manner that was “totally unacceptable and showed disrespect” for the judiciary.

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“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.

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Related Topics:

SAPSCrime and courts

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