Judge recuses himself from urgent application for suspension of liquidation order against Tumi Mokwena's law firm

2020-01-15 15:41
Tumi Mokwena is seen outside the Thabamoopo Magistrate's Court. (Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

Tumi Mokwena is seen outside the Thabamoopo Magistrate's Court. (Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

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The urgent application by Polokwane lawyer Tumi Mokwena for the suspension of a liquidation order against his law firm, was removed from the Limpopo High Court roll on Tuesday.

This was after Judge Gerrit Muller recused himself from presiding over the case.

Counsels for both parties concurred that they had reached the agreement that the matter be removed from the roll.

Muller did not give reasons for his recusal.

Earlier, counsels for both parties met in the judges' chambers, where the matter was deliberated.

News24 understands that the agreement was first reached in the chambers after it was felt that the judge was conflicted on the matter. It is understood that the conflict arose from the fact that the judge once heard a case involving Mokwena.

On December 12, 2019, Judge Frans Kgomo issued an order for the liquidation of Tumi Mokwena Incorporated (TMI) for unpaid debt due to local businessman Sthembiso Bethuel Bosch.

Bosch had argued that he deposited R1.5m into TMI's trust account for the purchase of a property that did not materialise. TMI never paid the money back.

An agreement reached, which was later made an order of the court for the repayment of the money, was on numerous occasions not honoured by Mokwena.

A warrant of execution was also issued which returned with a nulla bona certificate personally signed by Mokwena. This meant that the movable assets of TMI could not satisfy the repayment of the debt.

READ: Malema's former lawyer's firm under liquidation

However, Mokwena in his answering affidavit argued that the money was not deposited into the trust account on the basis of a client-attorney relationship.

He said then that the money was intended for a joint business venture which failed.

In his application for the suspension of the liquidation order, Mokwena said: "The order of 12 December 2019 has far-reaching consequences which also affect me personally whereas I'm not party to the main litigation in my personal capacity.

"The person authorised and/or admitted by the High Court to practice law is myself and not the applicant (TMI) as a body corporate.

"On this ground alone, the order of 12 December 2019 has to be stayed in that it will cause substantial injustice to me in my personal capacity in so far as my rights overlap with those of the applicant (TMI)."

He also pointed out that the sudden withdrawal of Floyd Legodi as his attorney of record ahead of the matter being heard in December, flouted court rules.

The date for the court hearing is yet to be set.

Last year, the Limpopo High Court issued an order for Mokwena to make available all accounting books for the Law Society of the Northern Provinces to inspect.

This was after the Bjatladi Communal Property Association, representing beneficiaries of the Zebediela Citrus Estate, complained of embezzlement of funds by Mokwena.

His appeal was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. 

Read more on:    polokwane  |  courts
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