Teffo fails in bid to dismiss application to have him barred from practicing law

Advocate Malesela Teffo.

Advocate Malesela Teffo.
Aaron Dube
  • The LPC approached the High Court, seeking to have advocate Malesela Teffo either suspended or struck from the roll.
  • The application is based on 22 allegations against Teffo, including assault, misappropriation of funds and misleading the court.
  • He failed to have the case postponed or dismissed after arguing he did not know about it, despite overwhelming evidence that he did. 

A seemingly unprepared advocate Malesela Teffo failed to have an application by the Legal Practice Council (LPC) to have him struck from the roll postponed or dismissed after the court did not accept his pleas of ignorance.

Teffo, in a brown suit, appeared in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, where he sought to represent himself in an application to bar him from practicing law.

After the parties introduced themselves, advocate Mfesane Ka-Siboto, for the LPC, jumped straight into the matter, saying the LPC was seeking to either have Teffo suspended or disbarred.

He told the court there were 22 allegations against Teffo, on which the LPC resolved to have him struck from the roll.

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Ka-Siboto said, in the first allegation, Teffo had been briefed to represent a client in a labour case at the CCMA.

However, he allegedly started using the instructing attorney’s signature, without authorisation, in correspondence in the case.

The attorney then parted ways with Teffo, who was no longer retained on the brief.

Despite this, Teffo still went ahead and allegedly enrolled the case at the Labour Court, without instructions to do so.

He also allegedly set the case down on the unopposed roll, when it was opposed.

“This was a misrepresentation,” Ka-Siboto said.

The Labour Court judge picked up the case was opposed and ordered it be placed on the opposed roll.

Instead of heeding the order, Teffo allegedly attempted to re-enroll the case on the unopposed roll three days later.

The state attorney appointed to oppose the case was in court on the day for another case and realised Teffo was attempting to place one of her cases on the unopposed roll, Ka-Siboto said.

When the attorney questioned Teffo, he said it was another case.

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Not believing Teffo, the attorney asked for access to the court file and found it was her case, but the file was missing the notice to oppose and answering affidavit.

Teffo also allegedly told the court there was an agreement between him and the state attorney, which led him to placing the case on the unopposed roll.

Ka-Siboto argued Teffo had misled the court, with the sole intention of getting a default judgment.

Teffo pleads ignorance

Before Ka-Siboto could move onto the next complaint, Teffo stood up to address the court.

He claimed he was unaware of the LPC application against him as he had been given two conflicting case numbers. Teffo said the one case number related to a civil case involving Nedbank.

He then claimed he only became aware of the application on Wednesday after visiting the High Court.

In addition, Teffo, whose arguments appeared to be unprepared, said he wanted legal representation.

When questioned by the court, which cited that Teffo had been served the notice of motion and founding papers in May 2021 already, he said he was never served papers by the sheriff of the court.

Despite Teffo’s assertions, he had also filed an answering affidavit, which clearly showed he had indeed received the founding papers and was aware of the application.

Teffo later changed his tune, claiming he had received the papers at a later stage, but not from the sheriff of the court as stipulated in the sheriff’s documents.

He then meandered around getting calls in July this year to collect a document from his old offices and that he did not trust the caller as he was in danger.

The court interjected several times, saying Teffo should confine his arguments to the issues before court to stop him from rambling.

Teffo also reverted to a classic allegation of his, that the LPC application was all part of a scheme by the police because he was winning Labour Court cases and was deemed a problem.

Ka-Siboto said there was only one case before the court and Teffo himself conceded to it by filing answering papers.

The court was also shown communication where Teffo was informed the application would be argued in court on Thursday.

Ka-Siboto said Teffo’s allegations were a falsehood and this was nothing more than a delaying tactic because he knew about the civil action as early as June 2021.

Explaining the different case numbers, Ka-Siboto told the court the case was initially sat down on the urgent role, where it got its first case number. It was then removed and placed on the normal roll, where the case was assigned a different number.

He said the second case number was identical to another case being heard in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, but maintained Teffo was always aware of this case.

Responding to these arguments, Teffo then claimed the complaints were fabricated by people he did not know.

He asked the court to dismiss the case with costs and “bonus costs”.

Teffo said he had laid a complaint against police officers for calling him the k-word, but did not explain how this related to the case before the court.

The court ruled the case would not be postponed indefinitely, as requested by Teffo, because he was served the notice of motion and founding papers more than a year ago.

The court also accepted Teffo knew about the case because he filed answering papers and appeared in court on Thursday.

The court said it was strange Teffo opted not to secure a legal representative when he had ample time to do so.

He attempted to challenge the ruling on the postponement by arguing the LPC had not given him a chance to respond to the allegations before the court, even though he had filed an answering affidavit.

Teffo then claimed the case could not be heard as he was going to lay a complaint against the LPC for violating his rights.

These arguments were also overruled by the court.

The LPC then went on to list multiple allegations against Teffo, including:

  • Assault of a police officer,
  • Misleading the court,
  • Breaching a court order,
  • Accepting briefs directly from clients,
  • Accepting payments directly from clients,
  • The misappropriation of funds,
  • Failing to cooperate with an LPC investigation,
  • Failing to act in an ethical and professional manner during court proceedings and when addressing a judge,
  • Misappropriation of funds,

Teffo is expected to respond to the allegations on Friday.

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