Advocates want Hunt out

2015-02-19 00:00

THE Society of Advocates of KZN has lodged an application to strike advocate Penny Hunt from the roll.

It is claimed she was instrumental in the 2010 theft of CCTV security equipment at the ­Pietermaritzburg advocates’ chambers, ­arranged for a bug to be planted in the ceiling at the chambers in 2011, and had a tracking ­device fitted to another advocate’s car.

Hunt is fighting back and alleges the ­application is unwarranted and the result of ­allegedly “remorseless and biased pressure”.

This pressure, she alleges, emanates from the Pietermaritzburg Bar Committee and, in ­particular, former chairperson Adrian Rall SC.

Hunt says she is a fit and proper person to practise as an advocate and the allegations are untrue.

A high court order was granted by consent in open court in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Friday, referring the matter “provisionally” for trial on January 25 next year.

The complaints against Hunt, detailed in ­volumes of court documents, include ­allegations that she had a tracking device fitted to the vehicle of advocate Mergen Chetty in a bid to “get dirt” on him.

The device was allegedly fitted after an ­incident when Chetty charged Hunt’s husband, Cameron Hunt SC, with assault for punching him at a party in June 2010.

Other allegations against Hunt are that she was guilty of “double booking”, and misled a disciplinary committee of the Pietermaritzburg Bar.

In reply, Hunt emphatically denies all the ­allegations.

She alleges Rall — chairperson of the ­Pietermaritzburg Bar from November 2010 to August 2012 — “clashed” on a number of ­occasions with her husband, that their ­relationship was “far from cordial”, and that Rall had ­“demonstrated a determination” to do her and her husband harm.

The Hunts were members of the Pietermaritzburg Bar until November 2011, when they relocated their practices to Durban.

Rall, who strongly denies Hunt’s allegations against him, alleges she demonstrated ­“repetitive unprofessional, criminal and ­devious behaviour”.

Her conduct showed she lacked insight to distinguish between what was professionally acceptable and “what is clearly wrong”, he said.

“Someone so ethically handicapped cannot be allowed to practise as an advocate,” Rall said.

According to his affidavit, Hunt allegedly caused Houston Wayne Impey to remove a CCTV hard drive from the Pietermaritzburg advocates’ chambers on October 30, 2010, and replace it with another so that she could view the footage on the original “at leisure”.

Rall said he was present when the chamber ceiling was searched and a device consisting of wires, a microphone and a “black box” was retrieved by RT Electronics on March 13, 2011. ­Police confirmed it was a “listening device”.

It was subsequently discovered that Hunt ­also allegedly arranged to have a tracking device fitted to Chetty’s car, said Rall.

Impey was paid R10 000 for his services.

The device was installed under the rear bumper of Chetty’s car.

Chetty said in his affidavit he was “shocked beyond belief” when police retrieved a “plastic rectangular object” attached to a metal receiver from under his car.

The discovery was made during the time that police were investigating his complaint that he was seriously assaulted by Cameron Hunt SC in 2010.

He assumed Hunt wanted to find something to use as leverage to make him withdraw the charge against her husband, he said.

In replying papers, Hunt denies every ­allegation or that she committed any criminal conduct, and said the Director of Public ­Prosecutions declined to prosecute her for theft of the hard drive.

She said she had requested Impey to obtain a copy of video footage from the CCTV system to obtain proof of “how inebriated Chetty was” when the incident involving her husband ­occurred, but she believed she was entitled to do so.

Hunt categorically denies causing a bug to be installed at the chambers, or that she was responsible for the tracking device on Chetty’s car.

According to Hunt, she was worried in ­August 2010 that her communications were ­being monitored and had confided in a client in the security industry, Dennis de Beer.

De Beer had climbed into the ceiling above her chambers and showed her what he ­identified as a “suspected component of ­electronic bugging”.

Hunt said she had engaged De Beer and ­Impey to investigate and “monitor against any future activities targeted against my husband or myself”.

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