Fugitive attorney Ronald Bobroff: I ran for my life

Former soccer player Eric September. Picture: File
Former soccer player Eric September. Picture: File

Controversial attorney Ronald Bobroff claims that fleeing the country had nothing to do with wrongdoing and everything to do with his life and that of his son being in danger.

This is the first time that he has spoken out about why he and Darren, his son, fled to Australia amid ongoing investigations by the Hawks and possible prosecutions by the National Prosecuting Authority.

Their law firm, Bobroffs & Partners Attorneys, acted on behalf of former Bafana Bafana player Eric September who had been involved in an accident in 1994.

Last week, City Press reported on September’s allegations that he was informed by Road Accident Fund (RAF) employees that R1.4 million had been paid to the law firm, which he said he did not receive.

Read: Ex-Bafana Bafana star battles to survive

The law firm has denied this allegation.

“We are wholly innocent of any wrongdoing, and we are victims of a corrupt set-up by a multibillion-rand public company,” Bobroff told City Press via emails.

He accused Discovery Health Medical Scheme of being behind “false, sensationalist and defamatory articles” about them and said September could have made allegations against his law firm after reading these articles.

“[These were] ... published at the instance of Discovery, whose decades of institutionalised defrauding of its members who had sustained injuries in road accidents had been exposed by us, and which after some years of increasingly ominous threats to destroy us as revenge for doing so eventually succeeded. After we received terrifying threats, which could only have come from sources close to Discovery, that my son, son’s wife ... and I were in imminent danger of serious physical harm if not murder ... [we were forced] to flee our homeland for fear of our lives,” Bobroff said.

However, Discovery Health chief executive officer Dr Jonathan Broomberg denied the allegations.

“Discovery vehemently denies all of the unfounded allegations made by Ronald Bobroff. Both he and his son Darren have been struck off the roll of attorneys in South Africa for their unlawful conduct, and numerous court judgments have been issued against them, confirming their criminal conduct and exploitation of hundreds of vulnerable road accident victims. They are wanted fugitives from South African justice, with an Interpol red notice issued against them for their arrest. Discovery urges them to return to South Africa to be given an opportunity to prove their innocence in a court of law.”

In defence of his claim that he was not a fugitive from justice, Bobroff provided City Press with a letter dated February 2013, signed by a director of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, JS Grobler, stating that they “have never been found guilty on any charges of unprofessional conduct by the law society”.

Bobroff also sent City Press a report dated November 2016.

It was signed by a curator for his law firm, Johan van Staden, who is also the head of the law society’s members department, and the society’s curators department legal official Estelle Veldsman.

The report indicates that Bobroff told the curator he “can only return to the RSA when he is to receive advice that it is safe to return”.

However, the same document contains a North Gauteng High Court case number providing reasons the Bobroffs were suspended and ultimately struck off the roll of attorneys.

Bobroff said this was a judgment by default, meaning it was “made on the basis of one-sided and untested allegations which we contend were false, and after we had been denied an opportunity of being heard by way of filing opposing affidavits together with a forensic auditor’s report, notwithstanding that the short postponement requested would not have caused any prejudice to any party”.

Bobroff said they applied for leave to appeal, but could not pursue it because of lack of funds.

“However, once we are in a financial position to proceed with the appeal we fully intend doing so, and have been advised by eminent senior counsel that there are numerous valid grounds on which to do so. We respectfully contend that we have been victims of a serious injustice and have not been guilty of any unprofessional conduct whatsoever,” said Bobroff.

With regard to September’s matter, Van Staden proposed that dissatisfied clients approach his office with the necessary information.

“The claimant can depose to an affidavit, setting out the facts together with any supporting documentation,” he said.

A good Samaritan, Dalton Rapetsoa, an attorney practising at Johannesburg-based MA Selota Attorneys, has offered free legal advice to September to help him. Rapetsoa said he was dealing with similar cases involving Bobroffs and RAF claims.

He said there was a possibility that September could recover his claim through the Attorneys Fidelity Fund, which was set up to reimburse clients whose funds had been misappropriated by their attorneys.

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