New trials ordered for suspects represented by bogus lawyer
Mosebetsi Mofokeng was struck off the Pretoria Bar’s roll of advocates a year ago‚ and now judges at the High Court in Bloemfontein have ordered new trials for at least five alleged criminals he was representing.
They said four alleged stock thieves and an alleged robber-rapist‚ whose trials began in regional courts in 2014‚ had their constitutional rights infringed because their lawyer was “never properly qualified to represent anyone‚ let alone accused persons in criminal matters”.
The stock theft trial has already heard from 13 witnesses but the High Court said it must restart under a new presiding officer. A similar order was made for the robbery and rape trial.
An affidavit by the Pretoria Bar said a certified copy of Mofokeng’s Baccalaureus Legum degree from the University of Johannesburg used a font the university had never used and bore falsified signatures. University records showed he did not complete a number of subjects‚ the affidavit said.
Acting Judge Neil Snellenburg‚ ruling in the rape and robbery case‚ said Mofokeng’s admission as an advocate was “shrouded in mystery”. There were even doubts about the authenticity of the court order admitting him to the Bar‚ he said.
The bogus lawyer’s misrepresentation to his client that he was qualified to appear on his behalf “strikes at the very heart of (his) right to a fair trial”‚ said Snellenburg.
“Mofokeng’s conduct has already caused a grave failure of justice. This should be remedied without further delay. It would be manifestly unfair to allow the trial to continue.”
Source: TMG Digital.