Senzo Meyiwa: In wake of trial spats, legal council reminds practitioners to maintain decorum

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Advocate Malesela Teffo is seen during the murder trial of Senzo Meyiwa in the Gauteng High Court.
Advocate Malesela Teffo is seen during the murder trial of Senzo Meyiwa in the Gauteng High Court.
PHOTO: Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images
  • The Legal Practice Council has reminded all legal practitioners of the importance of maintaining decorum in court.
  • Its notice follows scenes that unfolded in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial.
  • In that trial, defence advocate Malesela Teffo was reprimanded after refusing to listen to the judge and to follow court procedures.

Following often jaw-dropping scenes which have played out in the trial into the murder of Senzo Meyiwa, the Legal Practice Council (LPC) has sent a notice to legal practitioners to remind them of the importance of maintaining decorum in court and during their conduct with presiding officers and colleagues.

In the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday, Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela reprimanded advocate Malesela Teffo for continuously disregarding court processes and refusing to listen.

Teffo represents four of the men accused of murdering former Bafana Bafana captain, Meyiwa, in Vosloorus on 26 October 2014.

Teffo had raised issues relating to documents in the trial when Maumela asked him to stop. The judge explained that he first needed to hear fellow defence advocate Zandile Mshololo's postponement application.

Maumela told him:

After the application, you will be given an opportunity to address [the court] before the State responds.

READ | Senzo Meyiwa trial: 'Sit down Advocate Teffo' – Judge slams defence counsel for court behaviour

But Teffo continued and often spoke over Maumela.

He was adamant that he wanted to address the court before Mshololo.

Maumela again refused this and explained that there were procedures that had to be followed in court.

Later, Teffo attempted to raise the issues again but the judge stopped him.

"I made a ruling that we are not going to debate what you are raising now," Maumela said, adding that Teffo needed only to say whether he objected to the admission of the letters as part of the court record.

Teffo then sarcastically commented that the court should write answers that he should repeat and Maumela ordered him to sit down.

On another occasion, Teffo butted heads with the court when he refused to listen to Maumela.

"Unless you want to be in contempt of this court, I asked you a specific question. If you are not answering me on that, sit down," Maumela told him.

Teffo said:

Let's go to the chambers, finish and klaar.

READ | Senzo Meyiwa: Defence lawyer accuses judge of hampering his clients' constitutional rights

When Teffo's turn for objections came, he first berated the court and accused Maumela of deliberately violating his clients' rights and collapsing the decorum of the court.

On Tuesday, Teffo accused the court of bias after Maumela stopped him from giving evidence from the bar.

Teffo further criticised Mshololo and State advocate George Baloyi, telling the court they were not learned.

Maintaining decorum 

In a notice to legal practitioners on Tuesday, the LPC warned all legal practitioners of the importance of maintaining decorum in court and during their conduct with presiding officers, fellow practitioners, stakeholders and the general public.

"The council has noted with concern a decline in the decorum, some which has been seen in our courts. Legal practitioners are reminded of the code of conduct that is binding on all legal practitioners, and which is aimed at ensuring high standards of professionalism and dignity within the profession," the notice read.

News24 understands that the LPC was referring to the scenes that unfolded in the Meyiwa murder trial.

"The council urges all practitioners to conduct themselves in a dignified manner towards the judiciary, colleagues and all stakeholders in line with the Legal Practice Act, the code of conduct and the high standards that are expected of the profession," the LPC said.

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