Malesela Daniel Teffo, the former advocate in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, has been struck off the roll.
The Pretoria high court ruled in favour of a Legal Practice Council (LPC) application in absentia on Friday, as Teffo did not attend.
Judge Justice Nyathi and acting judge Thembi Bokako ordered that Teffo be removed from the roll of legal practitioners.
“The respondent must surrender and deliver his certificate of enrolment as a legal practitioner to the registrar of this court,” said Bokako, delivering the judgment.
Should he fail to do so within two weeks, the sheriff is directed to take possession of the certificate to hand it to the registrar of the court.”
Bokako said Teffo is also prohibited from operating banking accounts used in receiving money from clients.
Teffo was admitted as an advocate on January 5 2009 and practised as a referral advocate.
LPC advocate Mfesane Ka-Siboto previously told the high court there were 22 complaints of malpractice against Teffo. These included misleading the court, threatening clients and failing to act in an ethical and professional manner during court proceedings.
The LPC presented correspondence, affidavits and court records.
“More than 75% of the complaints relate to how Teffo conducts himself,” said Ka-Siboto, adding Teffo has also been charged with assaulting a female police officer from the provincial offices in Parktown, Gauteng.
In another instance, he allegedly used an attorney’s signature without authorisation in correspondence in a case.
Bokako said the court was convinced that Teffo’s conduct no longer meets the requisite threshold of a fit and proper person.
Countenancing him practising law “would involve danger to the public or the good name of the profession,” she said.
“This court finds that the respondent misled the courts in a number of occasions, he was even contemptuous in a number of instances.”
The judge rejected Teffo’s argument that he had not been given a fair right of reply by the LPC during its inquiry.
“It is our view that the contention by the respondent — that the applicant failed to give him an opportunity to address the complaints with him personally by a way of an enquiry before the [application for disbarring] — should not be given as an excuse to not dealing with them, because in these proceedings the respondent was given yet another opportunity to address the said complaints,” she said.
“What the court is faced with are bare denials, where the respondent has not defended with any particularity the complaints against him.”
Teffo, she said, lacked the sense of responsibility, honesty and integrity required of an advocate. “It is clear that the advocate does not possess any of the above. In this instance, the removal of his name from the roll of legal practitioners is justified.”
Teffo walked out of the Meyiwa trial in July after making sweeping allegations against the presiding judge, Tshifhiwa Maumela, defence advocate Zandile Mshololo and the prosecution. One of his claims was that a sangoma had been consulted to make Teffo fail in court.
Referring to this, Bokako said the court would not waste time dealing with delinquent assumptions levelled against officers of the court.
“This court does not have jurisdiction to deal with the current occurrences of another court, therefore this court will not concentrate much on untested and unfounded allegations raised by the respondent,” she said.
Her ruling was scathing on Teffo’s conduct: “The court is short of words in attributing the level of this behaviour projected by the respondent, safe to say that he has no regard for justice.”