High-flying lawyer Tumi Mokwena loses key court battle as he fights to save his firm from liquidation

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Prominent Lawyer Tumi Mokwena.
Prominent Lawyer Tumi Mokwena.
Joshua Sebola, Getty Images
  • Tumi Mokwena, who formerly represented EFF leader Julius Malema, has lost another round in court.
  • The High Court has previously ordered that Mokwena's law firm, TM Inc, be liquidated.
  • The matter stems from a challenge by two businessmen who lost R1.5 million they deposited with Mokwena in 2012.

The Limpopo High Court has dismissed with costs yet another three applications brought by Polokwane lawyer Tumi Mokwena in relation to an earlier order for the final liquidation of his law firm.

The three applications were assessed simultaneously by acting Judge M Naude, who, in his judgment, was scathing of Mokwena and his law firm, Tumi Mokwena Inc (TMI) for "their abuse of court process and unnecessary delay of the matters..."

Mokwena applied for the suspension of the liquidation order, rescission of the order and leave to appeal the order that his law firm be wound up.

In the judgment, Naude said: "It is evident that TMI was unable to pay its debts.

"TMI's inability to pay its debts was confirmed by Mokwena personally when the warrant of execution was served and no attachable property was found or pointed out to satisfy the judgment debt. Mokwena personally signed the nulla bona certificate on 2 April 2019 whereby he confirmed the inability of TMI to satisfy its debts."

The matter dates back to August 2012 when Majola Trust, represented by businessmen Sthembiso Bosch and Xolile Bosch, laid a complaint with the erstwhile Law Society of the Northern Provinces about R1.5 million deposited into TMI's trust account.

The money was for TMI to facilitate the purchase of a property, but the firm failed to do so. TMI also failed to return the money despite a settlement agreement that was also made an order of the court.

ALSO READ | Malema's former lawyer's firm under liquidation

On 12 December 2019, after lengthy litigation proceedings brought by the Majola Trust, the Limpopo High Court issued a final liquidation order of TMI.

Mokwena then brought an application arguing that he only became aware of the liquidation order through a friend of his who was in court on 12 December 2019. He only sourced the order from the court registrar the following day.

He also contended that his attorney of record, Floyd Legodi of Legodi Attorneys, withdrew from the process at the last minute.

About this, Naude said: "Bearing in mind that Mokwena is a legal practitioner of this court, I find his version and/or submissions in this regard highly improbable."

He dealt in length with the matter on the basis of law and also referred to various case studies.

Naude went on: "I am of the view that this court should show its displeasure in the conduct of Mokwena and/or TMI, their abuse of court process and unnecessary delay of the matters by awarding the costs as prayed for by Majola Trust..."

He awarded the costs on the basis of de bonis propriis - meaning the costs should be borne by Mokwena personally and not TMI.

Mokwena indicated to News24 that he would appeal the decision. He was reluctant to give further details.

The high-flying lawyer, who once represented EFF leader Julius Malema, previously said he used the money from the Bosch businessmen to start a joint venture, known as TM Performing Arts Management, with the two men.

He said the money was mistakenly deposited into his trust account.

At the time, Mokwena said "[u]nfortunately, this venture failed".

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