Johannesburg - The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) called on other legal bodies to act on its consequence management recommendations following the decision by the Johannesburg High Court to disbar a lawyer who defrauded the state of R34 million.
Lawyer Hassan Ebrahim Kajee was disbarred on Tuesday following an application brought forward by the Johannesburg Society of Advocates (JSA) regarding his misconduct while handling various matters on behalf of the state.
An investigation by the SIU revealed that Kajee inflated invoices, invoiced for services not rendered, and in certain instances even overcharged for alleged services rendered by him.
In court, it was revealed that Kajee charged the State R34 211 875 over the period of April 1, 2017, to August 24, 2018, which was equal to R66 950.83 every day for 511 days.
According to an affidavit deposed by the chairperson of the JSA, advocate Ian Green, the amount racked up by Kajee was 'impossible' for any counsel whose highest rate over that period was R2 500 per hour and R25 000 per day.
"The list of payments made to the respondent over the period clearly indicates a sustained pattern of overreaching. The court held that advocates are only entitled to charge a reasonable fee, and if they charge an unreasonable fee, they are guilty of overreaching.
"We are satisfied that the offending conduct of dishonesty and overreaching, coupled with settling matters without a client's mandate, has been proved on a balance of probabilities, and this on its own makes the respondent an unfit person to continue to practise as an advocate of this court. The payment of the sum of R34 million to him by the office of the State Attorney resulted from a corrupt relationship between the respondent and the State Attorney," read the judgment.
Kajee was admitted as an advocate of the High Court of South Africa by the Natal Provincial Division of the High Court on May 29, 1995, and on May 1, 2006, he became a member of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates.
He was eventually arrested by the Hawks on April 1 on numerous charges of fraud.
The SIU welcomed the judgment to strike Kajee off the roll and called on other bodies to follow suit with the recommendations of its consequence management.
Kaizer Kganyago, the SIU spokesperson, said the referral of the matter was made after their investigations into the state attorney's office.
"We want to thank the Johannesburg Society of Advocates for acting on our referral, and we call on others to do the same."