South Africa


‘Not fit and proper’ – advocate Malesela Teffo struck off the roll in scathing judgment

‘Not fit and proper’ – advocate Malesela Teffo struck off the roll in scathing judgment
Advocate Malesela Teffo walks through Church Square after withdrawing as council in the Senzo Meyiwa trial in the Pretoria High Court. (Photo: Supplied) | Teffo in court for the trial. (Photos: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu | Alet Pretorius | Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

Controversial advocate Malesela Teffo has been struck off the roll of legal practitioners and ordered to return his certificate of enrolment as legal practitioner to the Registrar of the Court. He had represented some of the accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.

In a scathing judgment on Friday the Pretoria High Court found that Teffo did not adhere to the highest standards expected by the profession and the courts. In essence the court found Teffo lacked the sense of responsibility, honesty, integrity and such attributes that are characteristics of an advocate.

This severe punishment comes after the Legal Practice Council said it had received 22 complaints about Teffo’s behaviour between 2019 and 2021. What followed was an application filed in the Pretoria High Court asking for his suspension.

During the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, which started in April, Teffo represented four of the five men accused of murdering the football star in 2014 at his girlfriend’s home in Vosloorus, Johannesburg.

Teffo’s outrageous comments trended on social media. He has told the court that “the situation is f*cked up”; he has accused Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela of practising witchcraft; and he has even gone as far as accusing the Presidency of intimidating him. Teffo did not provide proof of his claims and the Presidency dismissed them as baseless.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Defence lawyer in Senzo Meyiwa murder trial sent to holding cells with clients after dramatic court arrest

In reaching a decision, the Pretoria High Court underlined that a legal practitioner is a member of a learned, respected and honourable profession, and by entering it he pledges himself to total and unquestionable integrity to the courts and the profession.

Advocate Malesela Teffo talks to the accused during the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial in at Pretoria High Court on 13 June 2022 (Photo: Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

The court further reiterated that the image and standing of the profession are judged by the conduct and reputation of all the members, and that to maintain this confidence all members the profession must exhibit qualities set out above at all times.

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“This court is convinced that Teffo’s conducts no longer meet the requisite threshold of a fit and proper person, and is satisfied that the LPC has proved its case on balance of probabilities that Teffo is not a fit and proper person and that his countenance in practising would involve danger to the public or the good name of the profession,” the court found.

The judgment also indicated that Teffo misled the courts on a number of occasions; he was even contemptuous in a number of instances. The accused assaulted and intimidated members of the SAPS which resulted in an urgent interdict application prohibiting him from entering the premises of the SAPS. He is under investigation for corruption activities as defined by the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Assaults, insults and ‘witchcraft’ – how advocate Malesela Teffo got into a world of trouble with the legal council

The court also wasted no time in dealing with a scornful letter, dated 25 July 2022, addressed to advocate GD Baloy, in which Teffo averred he had been experiencing harassment from the courts, the state police, the minister of police and the prosecution, including the Director of Public Prosecutions in Johannesburg.

The court indicated it would not waste time dealing with delinquent assumptions and misconstrued aspersions levelled at the office of the court.

Advocate Malesela Teffo at the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial. (Photo: Alet Pretorius)

A court has ruled that Malesela Teffo’s conduct no longer meets ‘the requisite threshold of a fit and proper person’. (Photo: Alet Pretorius)

“The court is short of words in attributing this level of behaviour projected by Teffo. Safe to say he has no regard for justice. It is our view that the contention by Teffo that the applicant failed to give him an opportunity to address his complaints should not be given as an excuse for not dealing with them,” the court ruled.

The court ordered that Teffo be removed from the roll of legal practitioners and that he surrender his certificate of enrolment as a legal practitioner to the court within two weeks. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dellarose Bassa says:

    So, the LPC waits until the conduct of an advocate reaches these outrageous levels of impugning the practice of the law by its members before acting? If, as is claimed, advocates are held to a high standard of integrity & decorum in their conduct as legal practitioners & that they must not engage in conduct that can bring the legal profession into disrepute, why has no action been taken against Dali Mpofu? Is the Legal Practitioners’ Council intimidated by Mpofu’s brash, bullying, blunderbuss behaviour? I won’t hold my breath waiting for the LPC to act with alacrity and consistency. A sad state of affairs indeed to witness, via televised court cases, the obvious debasement of the dignity of our courts and the absence of basic decorum as it relates to personal demeanour & presentation on the part of those who practise the law. How on earth are students selected to study law & how do they pass? The mind boggles.

  • Michael Forsyth says:

    What a farce. It is ridiculous what lack of teeth the LPC has or even worse how they bend over to allow obviously corrupt practitioners to continue in office. This is a rare instance where they have been forced to take a stand. There are so may practitioners who are still practicing because the LPC fails to deal with them unlike the Law Societies

  • Sue Malcomess says:

    If it was so easy to disbar Advocate Teffo, why does it take so long to deal with other “wayward” legal professionals?

  • jeyezed says:

    I can think of another lawyer to whom many of those descriptions of behaviour would apply, but he seems immune to sanction.

  • Ryckard Blake says:

    How do I (who has no personal involvement in the matter) lay a complaint against SC Mike Hellens?
    For his Stalingrad conduct in the Fred Daniels vs Deputy President Mabuza case, now stretched out by the defence to over 10 years and going nowhere fast, this top advocate of the Johannesburg Bar surely deserves richly to be disbarred from practicing?
    See dailymaverick article 09-Sep”Disgust-of-the-judiciary-stalingrad-written-all-over-david-mabuzas-defence-in-land-claims-fraud-case”.

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