Trevor Tutu’s lawyer quits

2013-05-19 01:00

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There was drama in the Randburg Magistrates’ Court this week when Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s son, Trevor, ­appeared on charges of failing to pay child maintenance.

Tutu refused to plead and asked Magistrate Mekateko Molepo to recuse herself from the case because, he claimed, she was biased against him.

The shouting match that ensued ended with Tutu’s lawyer quitting on the spot.

Tutu was arrested in Swaziland in February after being accused of not paying maintenance for a child he allegedly ­fathered.

He was released on R1?500 bail after his first appearance and May 14 was set down as the trial date.

But when Molepo asked him to enter a plea, Tutu refused to do so.

His lawyer, who after the appearance would only give his name as “Malomane”, told the magistrate: “There are certain issues that we need to address here before we go on trial.”

Molepo interjected: “No, this matter must go on trial today.”

The interruption enraged ­Malomane.

“Will you please wait until I’m finished?” he told Molepo.

“The instruction I received from my client is that you should recuse yourself from this matter because you have been biased against him and he feels that he would not get a fair trial with you presiding over it.”

Molepo asked whether the lawyer was applying for her recusal, to which he replied “yes”.

After a brief adjournment to find an officer of the court to record proceedings, Molepo said she would not recuse herself.

She denied bias against Tutu, pointing out that she set his bail at R1 500 after the prosecution asked that it be set at R8 000.

Malomane would not budge.

“Your worship, you presided over the bail hearing of my client and he feels that you were biased against him because of the manner in which you conducted ­yourself,” he said.

“Even when I was addressing the court earlier on you kept on interrupting me. So if you don’t (recuse yourself), I will withdraw as an attorney of record.”

The magistrate’s word was final: no recusal. “Your client is not paying maintenance,” she said.

After a long silence, the lawyer started to pack his bag.

“I therefore withdraw as an ­attorney of record. You will see where to find him another representative,” he said, storming out of the courtroom.

Molepo postponed the case to tomorrow and asked Tutu to apply to Legal Aid SA for a new lawyer. She warned that a warrant for Tutu’s arrest would be issued if he did not turn up for his court appearance.

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