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Senzo Meyiwa: Advocate Teffo arrest sideshow undermines the court’s dignity

Police arrested Advocate Malesela Teffo, legal representative of accused 1 to 4 in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial. Picture by Goitsemang Tlhabye.

Police arrested Advocate Malesela Teffo, legal representative of accused 1 to 4 in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial. Picture by Goitsemang Tlhabye.

Published Apr 30, 2022

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Editorial

Johannesburg - South Africans have waited a very long time for Senzo Meyiwa’s killers to face the consequences of their actions – eight years in fact. But the five accused in the dock have only been in the frame for the murder for the last two years.

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The case itself, once it was on the court roll, has been mired in its own controversy culminating in the public arrest of advocate Malesela Teffo in the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday by heavily armed police. Teffo, who is representing four of the accused, was released on R10 000 bail yesterday. The arrest is unrelated to the current trial, but rather another case in which the advocate is actually the accused.

There are multiple issues with all of this, but they all come down to one thing: the administration of justice. For justice to be done, it must be seen to be done. Eight years for a murder case to come to trial – especially as one as high profile as this – is totally unacceptable. The fact that an advocate, as such an officer of the high court, can be arrested in a courtroom by heavily armed officers desecrates the dignity of that court – and all courts.

Teffo, whatever his failings, posed no imminent risk or threat to anyone’s safety. He could quite as easily have been arrested afterwards, but instead a signal was sent. We don’t know what that was supposed to be although Teffo is hellbent on telling us his interpretation: interference in the case by the Police Minister Bheki Cele.

It is an intolerable state of affairs by any stretch of the imagination, all the more so in a country such as ours with its unbelievably high levels of lawlessness and a rampantly dysfunctional legal system. Justice must run its course – with no more sideshows or the entire house of cards will come tumbling down.

The Saturday Star

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