Seth Nthai fights back, says appeal bid an attempt to 'harass, frustrate and drain' him

2019-06-14 17:16

Lawyer Seth Nthai is fighting tooth and nail to be able to practise again, filing an urgent application in the Limpopo High Court to have a ruling in his favour declared operational, pending the outcome of any appeals lodged against him.

Nthai's decision comes after the Johannesburg Society of Advocates (JSA) filed an application for leave to appeal the High Court ruling allowing him to practise again - almost a decade after he was disbarred.

The JSA has argued in its application that the High Court failed to recognise that Nthai's conduct amounted to the "corrupt and criminal solicitation of a bribe in exchange for the improper performance of his highest ethical duties as a counsel".

He admitted to serious transgressions when he tried to solicit a R5m bribe from an Italian businessman who was party to a mining rights dispute with the South African government.

In his affidavit, Nthai said the JSA's application was intended merely to "harass, frustrate and drain" him emotionally and financially.

Nthai said he would suffer "irreparable" harm if the judgment and order were not implemented, pending the outcome of the application for leave to appeal or a later appeal.

"I demonstrate that the respondents will not suffer any irreparable harm if the judgment and order are executed, pending the determination of an appeal process," he said.

Nthai, who is now a member of the Polokwane Society of Advocates, said the Polokwane Bar had already allocated chambers to him and he has already paid the membership fee.

He said the Bar would be able to keep a "watchful eye" on his conduct and behaviour.

"The court effectively found that I have shown remorse and contrition and have permanently reformed," he said.

Nthai also said that in January 2010, he voluntarily undertook not to practise, despite the fact that he was admitted as an advocate in Lesotho and Botswana and that this proved that he could be trusted.

"Public interest is protected in the sense that the court has found that I am a fit and proper person to practise again."

"The court found that since my name was removed from the roll of advocates, I made a sincere and determined effort to live with honesty, integrity and dignity.

"The intense publicity around my transgressions affected me psychologically and there is no way I can repeat such or allow myself to accede to any new transgressions of the ethical rules – no."

Nthai added that the Pretoria Society of Advocates, which had initially brought the application to have him removed from the roll, has now resolved not to apply for leave to appeal against the High Court ruling.

He added that he was also informed that the Legal Practice Council resolved not to file any application for leave to appeal.

Nthai said the executive committee of Advocates for Transformation (AFT) in Johannesburg has told its members, which form 50% of the JSA, that they should take steps to rescind the decision adopted by the JSA.

AFT stated that its members in the Johannesburg Bar Council did not receive a proper mandate to support the round robin resolution. "AFT does not support the decision of the JSA to apply for leave to appeal.

"AFT exco has resolved to instruct its members to take steps to have the said resolution rescinded by the Johannesburg Bar Council," Nthai's affidavit quoted AFT as saying.

However, speaking to News24 on Friday, AFT Johannesburg chairperson Joe Nalane said they had not taken a decision to challenge the judgment in the Nthai matter.

"We will discuss our own position. We will decide whether or not we accept the judgment as being correct in which event we will declare our stance. 

"If we come to the conclusion that the judgment is not correct, we will then say so. At this stage, we haven't taken a view yet because we have not yet discussed it formally." 

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Read more on:    seth nthai  |  polokwane  |  courts
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