Julius Malema’s ex-lawyer in debt standoff

19 January 2020 - 00:00 By SHAIN GERMANER
Morapedi Roy ‘Tumi’ Mokwena.
Morapedi Roy ‘Tumi’ Mokwena.
Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Bongiwe Gumede

Lawyer Morapedi Roy “Tumi” Mokwena was once a firebrand who hogged the headlines as EFF leader Julius Malema’s legal representative.

Now he faces liquidation of his Limpopo legal practice and seizure of his assets after a six-year legal spat with business person S’thembiso Bethuel Bosch over a R1.5m investment gone awry.

Mokwena has denied being indebted to Bosch or to the Majola Trust, of which Bosch is a member, but court papers in the liquidation application show he did sign a repayment agreement.

Papers submitted by Bosch in the successful liquidation application at the Polokwane high court say that Tumi Mokwena Inc (TM Inc) had been the Majola Trust’s lawyer.

Bosch says the Majola Trust paid R1.5m into the Mokwena practice’s trust account in 2012, but when he asked for it back two years later, the money was withheld. In 2016, Mokwena agreed to pay back the money at the rate of R100,000 a month.

“The stipulation was subject to the express agreement that should [Mokwena’s practice] fail to make payments timeously … the full outstanding capital amount plus interest thereon, calculated at 15.5% per annum from September 1 2012, shall immediately become due and payable,” Bosch’s papers say.

Mokwena also reportedly agreed to pay an extra R200,000 if he failed to make the payments, resulting in a debt that Bosch said was in the region of R2.6m.

In responding papers, Mokwena says the liquidation proceedings are “an attempt to coerce [me] to make payment in respect of a disputed claim that has prescribed”.

He says the R1.5m was related to a failed music venture, TM Performing Arts Management, and did not relate to his legal practice, therefore it should not be the focus of the liquidation.

“Unfortunately this venture failed, resulting in losses for [Bosch, his brother Xolile, the trust and himself] as regards our respective investments,” he says, adding that the money had been transferred to the TM Inc trust account in error.

IN NUMBER

R2.6 MILLION- What Tumi Mokwena allegedly owes S’thembiso Bosch and the Majola Trust (including interest)

R10 MILLION - Amount allegedly paid into Mokwena’s trust account and under investigation by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces

Mokwena says in his papers that his practice is not insolvent, but in December a court ordered that it be liquidated.

This week, Mokwena went back to court with an urgent application that the liquidation be stayed, at least until he finalises an appeal.

Proceedings were postponed on Tuesday when the presiding judge recused himself. The urgent application is now set down for this week.

Mokwena’s finances are also under scrutiny by the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, which has secured an order instructing him to make his accounts available for inspection.

This was after the lawyer allegedly failed to account for deposits of R10m into his firm’s trust account by Zebediela citrus estate in Limpopo. The society also wants to probe payments totalling at least R28.35m by the Exotic Fruit Co into the trust account.

Mokwena declined to comment, saying he wanted to await the outcome of the court proceedings.


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