Legal experts have reacted to Advocate Malesela Teffo’s withdrawal on Tuesday afternoon as representative for accused one to four in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, with some saying the controversial advocate’s behaviour has distracted from the merits of the actual case.
Teffo dropped the bombshell on Tuesday afternoon, moments after reading out a letter for accused number three, who claimed that he was being ill-treated at the Kgosi Mampuru correctional centre.
Teffo cited harassment from the police, the NPA, as well as the state and the judge in the matter Tshifhiwa Maumela, as reasons for his withdrawal.
Antics distracted from merits of the trial
Speaking to The Citizen on Wednesday afternoon, one of the prominent role players in the matter, Advocate Gerrie Nel did not want to comment on his colleague’s behaviour, other than describing the situation as “unfortunate”.
Nel said the trial was supposed to have been dominated by discussions around the crime and nothing else.
“We have not dealt with the merits of this case except for conspiracy theories and countless applications that were brought before the court,” Nel said.
“This matter has been on the court roll for months and we have not finalized a single witness, and the delays that we have had, have also been an injustice to our clients who have been waiting for years to find the truth.”
Regarding the way forward following Teffo’s withdrawal on Tuesday, Nel said he can only hope that the trial will be ready to resume in September. He said this is especially doubtful, considering that the legal aid board had provided attorneys for the accused, which they had refused in favour of providing their own counsel.
“The last I heard was that the clients have been given until beginning of August to find new counsel,” Nel added.
Arguments ‘unheard of in law’
Reacting to Teffo’s announcement, criminal law expert Dr Llewellyn Curlewis said Teffo has, in fact, been ‘incompetent’ throughout the court case.
“When one looks at the kind of applications he kept bringing up, I mean some of them are unheard of in law.
“He (Teffo) should have known better,” Curlewis said.
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He said Teffo’s withdrawal doesn’t mean the matter will now have start afresh.
“The matter can still be saved and I don’t think there will be a need for a retrial, unless a special application is brought,” Curlewis added.
Meanwhile it is believed Teffo said in court documents that he was a member of the Pretoria bar.
Attempts to get confirmation from the Pretoria bar were unsuccessful.
Earlier in the day when contacted, the Johannesburg bar said it did not have Teffo as a registered member.
Presidency also hits back at Teffo
Meanwhile, the presidency has issued a statement dismissing claims by Teffo that the office of the president itself is behind his alleged intimidation.
“The Presidency finds these unsubstantiated and baseless claims mischievous and harmful to the standing of the office of the President,” the statement reads.
The Presidency does not participate in criminal investigations or trials and is not involved in any perceived or actual harassment of Adv. Teffo.
As an Officer of the Court and a professional in the legal fraternity, Adv. Teffo must appreciate the level of veracity that is necessary to support such claims about any institution or individual. The Presidency espouses the values of our Constitution and cherishes the protection, safety and justice for all.