Teffo disbarred after court finds he lacks integrity, no longer meets threshold of fit, proper person

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Teffo disbarred after court finds he lacks integrity, no longer meets threshold of fit, proper person
Teffo disbarred after court finds he lacks integrity, no longer meets threshold of fit, proper person

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Advocate Malesela Teffo lacks a sense of responsibility, honesty, integrity and no longer meets the threshold of a fit and proper person.

These were the findings of the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday, which ordered Teffo to be struck from the roll of advocates due to continued misconduct as a legal practitioner.

The court, consisting of two judges, had previously heard an application by the Legal Practice Council (LPC) to have Teffo disbarred following numerous allegations and complaints of misconduct.

These included disrespectful and contemptuous behaviour in court, misleading the court, assault, and the misappropriation of monies from clients.

In the judgment, the court found Teffo had taken briefs directly from clients – which is unlawful – and had been receiving monies for these briefs from clients without a fidelity fund.

The misappropriation of funds seemed to have been the most significant issue.

Malesela Teffo can no longer practise law after being struck from roll of advocates

The court noted several complaints in which Teffo was accused of taking briefs, being paid, but not doing the agreed legal work.

Some of those who laid complaints noted that to date they have not been paid back, while others claimed he threatened them.

Acting Judge Thembi Bokako said there were evident inconsistencies in Teffo’s fees and that he took money from vulnerable and desperate clients, demanding they pay him upfront, knowing well he would not render the services expected.

She added from the uncontested evidence, the court believed the misappropriation of funds was tantamount to theft, which was concealed through Teffo’s actions.

The court also found he had misled different courts on multiple occasions, including when he placed a Labour Court case on an unopposed roll to secure a default judgment, knowing full well the case was opposed, and he had no brief from the instructing attorney to continue working on it.

Another instance of this behaviour was when Teffo misled the Labour Court when he handed up a copy of regulation during a case which differed from the copy submitted by opposing counsel.

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The court found Teffo had handed up the wrong document.

It also found he had breached a court order when he entered a police building despite an interdict preventing him from doing so.

A court order was obtained after he allegedly threatened and assaulted a female police officer because of a labour-related matter.

The court also noted his contemptuous behaviour in court, although this did not relate to the Senzo Meyiwa trial, but rather other cases that had been reported to the LPC.

Bokako said they could not deal with Teffo’s behaviour as a defence counsel in the Meyiwa trial because the case was ongoing.

However, she did note Teffo had made delinquent assumptions and baseless allegations with no supporting evidence offered.

The court held a similar line in reference to his defence of himself in the application.

Apart from denying all the allegations, Teffo offered no other version or evidence to support his innocence.

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Bokako said his submissions to the court were unorthodox and provided no evidence.

She also rubbished Teffo’s notion that he was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations and the court and that the LPC should investigate the complaints against him.

In addition, Bokako also dismissed his belief the LPC had to first put him through a disciplinary hearing before instituting court proceedings.

The most scathing part of the judgment was the court’s assertion Teffo had no regard for justice.

The court subsequently disbarred him, ordering him to surrender and deliver his certificate of enrolment as a legal practitioner to the court’s registrar.

The court also appointed LPC Gauteng director Johan van Staden as a curator to administer and control Teffo’s banking accounts which he used as a legal practitioner.

Council chairperson Janine Myburgh welcomed the ruling.

“The ruling means that he is not able to practice, cannot offer advice or appear in court as a legal practitioner or offer these services to members of the public. As the LPC, our role is always to safeguard the public and maintain the required legal standards in the profession.”She said that while the council did not take pleasure in practitioners getting struck off the roll, public protection is paramount.Myburgh said the cases against Teffo were reported between 2019 and 2022.

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