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Judge asks legal society to deal with disgraced lawyer

Controversial attorney Zuko Nonxuba, who took 80% of a client’s R1.1-million Road Accident Fund (RAF) settlement intended to help her care for her brain damaged child as his fees, yesterday landed in hot water.

Nonxuba’s client, unemployed Cofimvaba resident Bukelwa Ciko – whose 13-year-old daughter, Mihle, was hit by a car in 2005 when she was just a tiny toddler – was compensated to the tune of R1.15-million by the Road Accident Fund in 2009.

Mihle was left disfigured and permanently disabled by the accident.

But all Ciko received from Nonxuba was a massive bill of R950000 for his services and a cheque for the balance of R195000.

A clearly incensed Judge Jeremy Pickering yesterday said the court papers constituted prima facie evidence of gross misconduct and unconscionable over-reaching on Nonxuba’s part and ordered that the documents be handed over to the Cape Law Society for its consideration.

It emerged in court papers that – over and above the R1.15-million compensation for Ciko – the RAF had also paid Nonxuba R200000 in so called party-and-party costs.

This means that Nonxuba scored some R1.15-million from the case while Ciko, supposedly the beneficiary of the compensation, walked away with only 10% of it.

Ciko, represented by Grahamstown attorney Brin Brody, took Nonxuba to court in April to get an interim payment of some R200000 pending the taxation of his bill of costs.

Judge Murray Lowe also ordered Nonxuba to produce Ciko’s litigation file by end June and to fully account to her for the massive bill.

Nonxuba did not do so and instead yesterday came to court to belatedly apply for an extension to end of next month. Ciko had agreed to the extension which came before Pickering to be made an order of court.

But Pickering asked Nonxuba’s advocate Matthew Mpahlwa why he should not refer the matter to the Cape Law Society.

Mpahlwa said neither he nor his client had anticipated they would have to argue the possibility that it be referred to the Law Society and that Ciko had in any event agreed to the extension which was the only issue before court.

Pickering said he would grant the agreed-to extension but his intention of referring it to the Law Society was a separate issue altogether.

He described it as unconscionable that a mother would get just R195000 of a R1.15-million payout for the care of her brain damaged child.

He said the letter in which Nonxuba had personally accounted for his fees was prima facie evidence of “gross misconduct and gross over-reaching” on Nonxuba’s part.

“How has his client been supporting this child ?”

He granted Nonxuba an extension to September 26 to produce the file and his bill of costs but also ordered the registrar to forward the court papers to the Law Society for its consideration.

The Daily Dispatch has previously reported that Nonxuba had amassed a formidable fortune from his personal injury work.

Both the Dispatch and Sunday Times have reported claims that he has short-changed a number of clients.

His conduct is reportedly being investigated by the law societies of the Cape, Free State and Northern Provinces.

It has also been reported that the investigations relate to more than 30 complaints from former clients – some dating back to 2011 – who accuse him of defrauding them of their settlements to the tune of millions of rands.


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