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Defiant, disbarred advocate Malesela Teffo could soon face time behind bars

Disbarred advocate Malesela Teffo. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Disbarred advocate Malesela Teffo. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 19, 2023


Pretoria - Disbarred “advocate” Malesela Teffo could soon find himself behind bars if he continues with his antics to pose as an advocate.

The Legal Practice Council is set on asking the court to hold him in contempt of court following last year’s order in which he was removed from the roll of advocates.

Despite the fact that the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria in September last year, among others, ordered him to surrender his certificate of enrolment as an advocate, this had not been done.

Teffo has apparently paid no heed to the fact that he may no longer practise. He was this week yet again seen, fully dressed in his court attire – as on previous occasions – in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.

This week he once again wanted to make submissions to Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela, who refused to entertain him.

The legal profession watchdog has served him with its latest application – this time to hold him in contempt of court for ignoring the fact that he has been axed as an advocate.

The watchdog organisation filed papers with the court in which they are expected to later this month ask for an urgent order declaring Teffo in contempt of court.

In its application, the Legal Practice Council is asking the court to issue Teffo with a jail sentence, to be suspended and only executed if he continues to ignore the fact that he has been disbarred.

Puleng Keetse, chairperson of the Legal Practice Council, suggested in court papers that Teffo should serve a year’s imprisonment, suspended if he towed the line and no longer acted as if he was an advocate.

He, however, said it was up to the court to decide on the jail term and it was also up to the court to decide not to suspend the imprisonment, but to order that he immediately had to serve whatever term the court decided on.

“The sentence must reflect the seriousness of Mr Teffo’s conduct, which we suggest is far more egregious and unrelenting than that of Mr (Jacob) Zuma, whose incarceration was immediate and not suspended,” Keetse said in his court papers.

He added that it does not seem to help to slap Teffo with a fine, as this has happened in the past in an unrelated case.

It also emerged that he has to date also not paid the legal costs with which he was slapped – on a punitive scale – when he was disbarred last year.

Keetse said Teffo should not be allowed to further display his contempt for the law by posing as an advocate and for not adhering to last year’s order.

He pointed out various instances where Teffo, since he has been disbarred, acted as if he was still an advocate. These included his antics in the Meyiwa trial, of which the Legal Practice Council had first-hand knowledge, as the organisation had its lawyers there on occasion on a watching brief during Teffo’s erratic appearances.

Teffo earlier applied for the judgment to disbar him to be rescinded, but he never took matters further. He then wanted to have a variation of the order, which was also not taken further. As things stand, he is definitely not allowed to act as an advocate, Keetse said.

It also emerged that Teffo has been embroiled in other legal proceedings with the landlord where he previously had chambers. He was apparently not allowed to further run his chambers from there and turned to court, as an “advocate”, to get his chambers back. In that application, he told the court that he was an advocate.

Teffo has not yet filed his opposing papers in the forthcoming contempt of court application.

Keetse said in his court papers that they did serve the application electronically on him, but it is not known whether he will pitch at court.

He made it clear that the court urgently had to deal with Teffo as he simply cannot be allowed to act on behalf of “clients” while he is not allowed to do so.

In striking Teffo from the roll of advocates last year, the court said it was in the interest of the public and the legal fraternity not to allow him to practise law any further.

Some of the adverse findings the court had made against Teffo was that he was dishonest and lacked integrity. He, among others, took money from a host of clients, to whom he afterwards refused to deliver any service. When they tried to contact and confront him about this, he became abusive towards them.

Pretoria News