Pay your lawyers, graft trial six warned

2011-07-13 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL businessman Lucky Moloi and two of his six co-accused, who are all charged with corruption, were warned by regional court magistrate Jaco Jordaan yesterday that if they fail to pay their privately hired attorneys or make alternative arrangements for legal aid they will be forced to represent themselves when their trial starts on September 5.

The court was told that Moloi, former uMgungundlovu District councillor Themba Zungu and former bodyguard Thembinkosi Xaba have not yet paid — or provided proof that they will be able to pay — attorneys of their choice.

The court was told that Zungu is raising a bond to cover his legal costs, but his lawyers are still waiting for an assurance that the money will be forthcoming. Moloi has undertaken to pay his lawyers by July 21.

Xaba was said to have been unable to give his attorney “any assurances” other than verbal promises that he was arranging loans, but was adamant he did not want legal aid.

The other accused, former estate agent Neville Watts, former Msunduzi deputy mayor Alpha Shelembe, his wife Joyful Shelembe and sister Nelisiwe Shelembe, are ready for trial, the court was told.

State advocate Rema Mahabeer pointed out that the trial date was fixed a year ago and urged the court to ensure that the accused do not hold the justice system to ransom by expecting a postponement of the trial because they do not have legal representation.

Jordaan said attorneys who have not been placed in funds by August 5 will be given leave to withdraw on that day.

He saidhe was told the trial would be “involved” and any attorney who was only briefed a month before may not have adequate time to prepare.

“You are already warned therefore that if legal aid attorneys are not prepared to take the matter to court you will have to represent yourselves and that may well be to your own prejudice. The trial will not be adjourned again on September 5, whether you are represented or not,” he said.

*The allegations against the accused are that they colluded to persuade the uMgungundlovu Municipality to buy the MIB building in Langalibalele Street in 2003 at an inflated price of R6 850 000 and that Watts, Zungu and Alpha Shelembe shared R1 million “commission” between them.

The others are alleged to have helped “launder” the money to conceal its origin.

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