Pretoria – Advocate Malesela Daniel Teffo, who represents four of the five accused men in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, on Friday said his arrest inside the High Court in Pretoria was an embarrassing chapter, but he vowed not to be derailed.
Teffo was arrested in dramatic fashion within the courtroom. He was handcuffed in front of journalists and later taken to the Hillbrow Police Station where he spent the night behind bars.
“Yeah, after such an embarrassment, of the whole world [watching]. I will gain myself from here. I will get the strength,” Teffo told a scrum of journalists inside the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court shortly after he was granted R10 000 bail.
“I am not broken. No, I am not. I am determined because I know the reason why this is happening. From the way I was taken yesterday, I know what is happening.”
Teffo, however, said he needed “further guidance” from his attorney, Tshepo Thobane, regarding what he could say to the media at this stage.
“Addressing the media is inevitable. It cannot happen the way it happened and I remain silent,” he said.
Asked if he still felt that Police Minister Bheki Cele had a hand in his spectacular arrest, Teffo responded: “There is a lot happening. The agencies – NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] is involved, the SAPS is involved. They are involved, these agencies. I cannot individualise, but there are those seniors giving the orders that are taken seriously”.
Teffo was taken to the side by Thobane, and they spoke privately.
Thereafter, Thobane spoke to the media instead.
“It’s unfortunate my client is not well. He spent the whole night in the cold. And he cannot talk much. My instructions are that he must go home and rest. You know the African culture, he must take a big bath. When we come back, he will indicate when we will address the media,” said Thobane.
The Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Friday cancelled the warrant of arrest which was issued in January, when Teffo did not appear in court on an unspecified charge.
Through Thobane, Teffo told the court that he skipped the January 27 court date because he had Covid-19.
The court cancelled the warrant of arrest, and postponed the matter to May 27.
Teffo reportedly faces charges of trespassing, after he allegedly visited the South African Police Service (SAPS) offices in Gauteng. The case is unrelated to the Meyiwa murder trial, according to reports.
During his arrest, Teffo accused Police Minister Bheki Cele of masterminding his arrest.
Several police officers, including members of the Tactical Response Unit, pounced on the legal representative inside the high court building, leaving tongues wagging.
The videos of dozens of police officers mobbing the lawyer shortly after the adjournment of the Meyiwa murder trial have been trending, with many questioning the SAPS’s seemingly heavy-handed actions.
Teffo was arrested in full view of journalists who were in court to report on the Meyiwa murder trial on Thursday.
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.
Teffo was also heard protesting that the police officers had neither read him his rights nor informed him of the charges.
Cele, however, told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika that he was unaware of the arrest.
“Well, I received the message on the phone, spokesperson Lirandzu (Themba) saying that the advocate has been arrested and, a few minutes later, at 3.41pm, I received a message that the accusation is that the arrest is pushed by the Minister Bheki Cele and others.
“I immediately … (contacted) the national commissioner to get a full report of what happened, and I wait for that report,” said Cele.
“Until I know what really happened, I am not able to comment on this matter.”
On Thursday, shortly before his arrest, Teffo told the court that there was a high-profile, well-orchestrated campaign to cover up Meyiwa’s murder because it involved politicians and senior police officers.