Lawyer refuses to give evidence at Nugent inquiry, risks prosecution

David Maphakela, the lawyer who gave legal assistance to SA Revenue Service head of human resources Luther Lebelo, on Monday morning declined to give oral evidence at the Nugent Inquiry, despite a ruling by the commission's head Judge Robert Nugent that he is obliged to do so. 

Maphakela left the commission of inquiry on Monday morning without testifying, while his lawyer resolved to challenge the ruling in court. Maphakela's law firm was paid R759 000 to gather evidence for Lebelo ahead of his testimony at the inquiry last month.

After Maphakela refused to give evidence, Judge Nugent said he could not understand "why an admitted attorney must refuse to give evidence before the commission". 

Nugent warned Maphakela that he risks prosecution for his act.

Lebelo continues giving evidence

After Maphakela refused to testify, Lebelo continued with his evidence which he started last week.  

He told the inquiry that reports that he paid lawyers R759 000 was an incorrect understanding of what took place and had "cast aspersions" on his character.  Rather, he said this amount was a fee charged by private lawyers to help him gather evidence for his submission at the inquiry.

It has emerged that the initial fee was R1m and this was negotiated down to R759 000. The invoice has not yet been paid out. Lebelo has admitted that the invoice was "exorbitant". 

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