Court instructs lawyer Tumi Mokwena to open financial books for scrutiny

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)

The Law Society of the Northern Provinces has been granted permission to inspect all accounting records of Polokwane attorney Tumi Mokwena, following complaints of misconduct.

The order was granted last week after Mokwena failed to lodge a petition within the stipulated time to the Judge President of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) for reconsideration and variation of the dismissal of his appeal against a Limpopo High Court order.

READ | Law society to inspect attorney Tumi Mokwena's records after misconduct complaints

The high court had earlier issued an order for the Law Society to inspect all his accounting records and files belonging to his law firm.

The matter has its origin in the complaint lodged with the Law Society by a member of the Bjatladi Communal Property Association (BCPA), which is the beneficiary of the Zebediela Citrus Estate through the land reform programme.

The complaint involves a R10m deposit into the trust account of Mokwena, who is best known for previously representing EFF leader Julius Malema, on behalf of the BCPA.

The money has not been accounted for.

READ | Malema's former lawyer fighting possible liquidation of his firm

A company known as Exotic Fruit Company allegedly also deposited more than R28m through several payments into his trust account. However, the money did not trickle down to the BCPA and it remains unaccounted for.

All this happened when Mokwena was running the affairs of Zebediela Citrus Estate on behalf of the beneficiaries.

'You are running a campaign'

Mahlangu Attorneys also complained to the Law Society about a R150 000 deposit made into Mokwena's account, and there has been no accounting.

Contacted on whether Mokwena would co-operate with the Law Society to inspect the records, his attorney Floyd Legodi did not want to delve into the matter, but instead accused News24 of "running a campaign". 

"You are running a campaign of which the end results will reveal itself," Legodi said.

"I have several cases that I'm dealing with and I cannot just comment on this one in a short space of time," he said.

The latest development comes at a time when Mokwena is fighting a high court application for his law firm's liquidation.

The application was brought by businessman Sthembiso Bethuel Bosch, a trustee of Majola Trust, who claims he deposited R1.5m and a further R150 000 into Mokwena's trust account for the purchase of a property in 2014. Bosch claims this did not happen.

In court papers, Bosch said: "As a consequence, the (Majola) Trust, during 2014, instituted action against First Respondent (Tumi Mokwena Incorporated) for repayment of the money.

"First Respondent, despite initially advancing frivolous defences, must have realised that discretion was the better part of valour as a result of which on 12 April 2016 and at Polokwane, the (Majola) Trust and First Respondent (as represented by Mokwena) concluded a written agreement to settle the dispute."

The agreement was later made an order of the court after Mokwena failed to make the repayments.

'Applicants are disgruntled'

A warrant of execution was later issued, but the sheriff of the court returned with a "nulla bona" report, indicating the sheriff could not find "sufficient attachable movable property to satisfy the judgement debt".

However, Mokwena, in his answering affidavit, said the money was meant for a new business venture with the applicants in the music industry through a company known as TM Performing Arts Management (Pty) Ltd.

He said the money was mistakenly deposited into his trust account and was later transferred to another account.

"The funds in dispute do not concern any instructions in my capacity as director of TM Inc but relates to a failed bona fide business venture that I undertook in the music industry known as TM Performing Arts Management (Pty) Ltd.

"Unfortunately this venture failed resulting in losses for both the applicants and I, as regards our respective investments.

"The applicants are disgruntled and have seemingly refused to accept the reality and initiated various litigation in an attempt to recover their losses from me whatever it takes, including dragging my good name and that of TM Inc through the dirt," Mokwena said.

The matter was postponed in the Limpopo High Court to a date to be announced due to Mokwena's late filing of his court papers.

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