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Advocate Teffo’s long list of alleged misconduct heard in court

05 August 2022 - 09:03
There are 22 complaints against advocate Malesela Teffo. File photo.
There are 22 complaints against advocate Malesela Teffo. File photo.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Misleading the court, threatening clients, failing to cooperate with a Legal Practice Council (LPC) investigation and failing to act in an ethical and professional manner during court proceedings. These are some of the complaints about advocate Malesela Teffo’s alleged misconduct.

The council has brought an application in the Pretoria high court to have Teffo struck from the roll or suspended.

Advocate Mfesane Ka-Siboto, for the LPC, told the court there were 22 allegations against Teffo. 

Teffo’s long list of alleged misconduct was read out in court while he sat with his left hand against his cheek.

In one instance, he allegedly used an attorney’s signature without authorisation in correspondence in a case. 

Ka-Siboto told the court Teffo was representing a client in a labour case at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in the matter. After the incident, the attorney had a fallout with Teffo, who was no longer retained on the brief. Teffo allegedly went ahead and enrolled the case at the labour court without instructions to do so. 

Teffo also enrolled the matter on the unopposed roll instead of the opposed roll. Ka-Siboto said the judge picked up the case was opposed and ordered it to be placed appropriately.

He said a few days later, while in court for another matter, a state attorney appointed to oppose the matter realised Teffo had attempted to re-enrol the case on the unopposed roll.

Ka-Siboto also told the court a letter received from police details that a criminal investigation is with the director of public prosecutions South Gauteng pending a decision on prosecution.

In this, it is alleged Teffo and a former police captain were working together to manipulate the outcome of labour-related appeals and arbitration proceedings against receipt of payment or benefit. The matter was investigated by the Hawks with the help of a private auditing firm appointed by the police.

A complainant who sought Teffo’s assistance in 2009 regarding a labour matter, where he instructed Teffo to challenge his unfair dismissal at the labour court, said he paid Teffo R13,500.

The complainant said after that, he called Teffo every two weeks, as instructed, but his calls were ignored. He said he was able to reach Teffo when he called him with different numbers.

In December 2020 Teffo told him he will refer the matter to arbitration in January 2021. When he followed up on the arbitration date, Teffo sent him a letter stating he is terminating the mandate with immediate effect and will refund him. The complainant hasn’t received any communication regarding his refund or the return of his personal documents.

Teffo also allegedly assaulted and intimidated a police officer, which resulted in an urgent interdict application prohibiting him from entering the police and state attorney building in Johannesburg. He was further interdicted from intimidating, threatening, victimising and harassing police and state attorney personnel.

He is also accused of breaching a court order handed down in October 2019 by threatening the police officer, for which he was arrested and released on bail.

The court heard Teffo misled the labour court by handing a copy of regulation 15 of the police service 2006 disciplinary regulations which differed from the copy submitted by opposing counsel. The judges hearing the matter confirmed the version of the copy submitted by the opposing counsel.

In some instances, the court heard there were complaints that Teffo walked into client’s offices unannounced and without any warning to allegedly intimidate and threaten them. This after they had terminated his mandate.

“(Teffo’s) conduct stands to jeopardise the integrity of the profession. He has been contemptuous of this court, of which he is an officer, and could further expose other legal practitioners as well as members of the public to practices which are unbecoming of an officer of this court,” Ka-Siboto said.

He said by virtue of his alleged conduct and behaviour, Teffo has damaged and affected the good standing and reputation of the profession as a whole.

“Consequently he should be suspended from practising as a legal practitioner and his name should be removed from the roll of advocates of the court,” he said.

The matter will continue on Friday.

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