Senzo Meyiwa trial: Sangomas and bewitching concoctions - Teffo is back again with baseless claims

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Advocate Malesela Teffo has made damning claims while serving as defence counsel for four of the five accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.
Advocate Malesela Teffo has made damning claims while serving as defence counsel for four of the five accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.
PHOTO: Aaron Dube
  • Advocate Malesela Teffo has signalled his intention to return as defence counsel in the Senzo Meyiwa trial after he withdrew earlier in June.
  • In a letter, Teffo continued to make untested claims, including that he was bewitched by the court, with the help of a sangoma.
  • Bizarrely, Teffo also set out a list of demands that needed to be met if he was to return to court.

Signalling his intention to return as defence counsel in the Senzo Meyiwa trial, advocate Malesela Teffo has launched yet another tirade of unfounded claims – including that the court tried to destabilise the defence by using witchcraft, while simultaneously making seemingly ludicrous demands to ensure his appearance in court.

In a letter, dated 25 July, Teffo, who represented four men accused of murdering the former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, informed the state prosecutor, advocate George Baloyi, that he would again take up the position of defence counsel.

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Teffo had previously withdrawn as counsel, citing harassment from the court, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and the police.

Teffo, who has a history of making allegations without substantiating or providing context or evidence, then made several claims – some new and others simply repeated. 

He maintained that Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela was biased. 

However, he also claimed that, somehow, between the court, the State and defence counsel for accused five, advocate Zandile Mshololo, there was an agreement that Teffo's clients should be represented by legal aid, so that they could be found guilty of Meyiwa's murder.

ANALYSISAlex Mitchley: Advocate Teffo's claims a farce if he can't back them up

Teffo then bizarrely accused Mshololo of approaching taxi bosses in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, to pay her to represent the other four accused.

"Advocate Mshololo knew that it was a done deal that my attorney and I were recused from this trial and the matter was postponed to the 2nd of August 2022 for new legal representatives of accused one to four," Teffo said.

Teffo claimed that this information was given to him by the sister of one of the accused.

He also brought up his arrest in court earlier this year, this time claiming that Police Minister Bheki Cele and Justice Minister Ronald Lamola had orchestrated the arrest, assisted by Mshololo.

Teffo gave no basis or proof for this claim.

Teffo was arrested after he failed to appear in court in a separate matter, in which he was an accused.

Sangoma and witchcraft

In what can only be considered one of his most outrageous claims made to date, Teffo accused Maumela of obtaining the services of a sangoma to bewitch him.

"I started to have the nightmares after Judge Maumela brought his sangoma to court, and his ill-treatment against me increased more than ever before," Teffo said.

"I was reliably informed that the involvement of the sangoma in this matter was to cause me to collapse inside the court. This is the witchcraft aimed at destabilising the defence for accused 1 to 4, and myself being the main target in this regard."

READ | Presidency rubbishes Teffo's claims that plans to 'harass' him were hatched in Ramaphosa's office

Teffo then claimed, again without providing a shred of evidence, that Maumela was drinking a concoction in court to achieve the said goal of making him collapse.

"This is the main reason I decided to withdrew (sic) from the matter, after I informed my clients and the attorney.

He added:

It was not difficult to explain my situation to the accused and their relatives, including Sifiso Meyiwa, as African people. The sangoma was fortunately witnessed by all the parties, when coming to consult with Judge Maumela in his chambers, at the time we were with Judge Maumela.

It is uncertain who Teffo was referring to when he mentions that all the parties saw the sangoma when consulting in Maumela's chambers, but it's certain that neither the accused nor their family members would be allowed in a judge's chambers.

Responding to the claims, the Office of the Chief Justice merely said complaints against judges should be lodged with the Judicial Service Commission.

Teffo's demands 

Teffo then goes on to list several demands that needed to be met to ensure his attendance and that of the accused, who are in custody, in court.

Teffo's first prerequisite is that he wants a separation of trial from accused five. Had Teffo wanted a separation of trial, this should have been applied for before the trial commenced.

He then asks that Judge Bert Bam or a retired judge be appointed to hear the trial.

Teffo, though, cannot request a specific judge to hear the trial – and, if he does not want the matter to be further heard by Maumela, he would have to bring a successful recusal application.

READ | Troublesome Teffo's alleged misconduct being investigated by the Legal Practice Council

Teffo also accuses Baloyi of not having a title to prosecute, and demands that the Director of Public Prosecution appoint a new advocate to represent the State.

Teffo is effectively demanding a special plea, which should have been brought before the trial commenced.

Teffo then makes several other demands, which are untenable in law as they cannot be brought to court by way of motion, including the dismissal of Cele, withdrawal of criminal charges against himself, and that singer Kelly Khumalo be prosecuted.

Unfounded allegations 

This is not the first time Teffo has gone on a diatribe against the courts, and made untested allegations.

News24 previously reported that Teffo's conduct was under investigation by the Legal Practice Council after two complaints were lodged against him.

Teffo also has a history of butting heads with the court.

Judge Winston Msimeki removed Teffo as a defence advocate for two of the accused in the Radovan Krejcir trial.

In his judgment, Msimeki said Teffo was so disruptive the trial could no longer progress.  

Without substantiation, Teffo claimed that Msimeki was carrying out a political mandate, he was not a sober judge, and he should retire.

Msimeki found Teffo's behaviour disrespectful, unethical, unprofessional and contemptuous.

The court found he needed to be removed from the case for the sake of progress.

Teffo was also hit with a R50 000 fine for contempt of court in the Labour Court, where he represented a police officer.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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