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Senzo Meyiwa trial lawyer Malesela Teffo’s arrest unacceptable, says Raymond Zondo

Advocate Malesela Teffo was dramatically arrested in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Advocate Malesela Teffo was dramatically arrested in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Published May 5, 2022


Pretoria - Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has added his voice to the dramatic arrest of advocate Malesela Teffo in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria last week.

According to him, the arrest was completely unacceptable and should not have happened.

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In a media statement, his office said that Justice Zondo had, meanwhile, seen footage of the arrest.

“The Chief Justice wishes to make it clear that the arrest of anybody, let alone a legal practitioner, inside a courtroom, is completely unacceptable and should not have happened,” spokesperson for the judiciary Nathi Mncube said.

According to Justice Zondo, it should be remembered that Teffo’s arrest was in the same courtroom in which he appeared, representing his clients.

Teffo was defending four accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial and was dramatically arrested and cuffed in full view of the media and public seconds after the court had adjourned.

In this regard, Justice Zondo said: “There was no justifiable reason why the SAPS could not have waited for advocate Teffo to leave the courtroom 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.”

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Justice Zondo further commented that Teffo was not going to spend the evening in the courtroom. He said 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.

“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,’” Justice Zondo said.

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Mncube, meanwhile, said the Chief Justice wished to make it clear that this statement was not about whether Teffo should or not have been arrested. “It is about the place where the arrest was effected and the manner in which it was done.” He said Justice Zondo expressed the hope that the SAPS would make sure that there were no similar incidents in the courts in the future.

Both the General Council of the Bar of South Africa and the Pan African Bar Association of South Africa have called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances under which Teffo was arrested and cuffed in court. They have asked that the outcome of this investigation be made public.

The Legal Practice Council also voiced its concern and dismay over the arrest in the court.

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It said while Teffo may or may not have a case to answer, the manner of his arrest in full view of the media and the public impeded his dignity and compromised the sanctity of the courtroom.

Pretoria News