Press "Enter" to skip to content

Evidently, Teffo was not going to spend the evening in court, the police should have waited outside

 

 

The Constitutional Court, Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo  has condemned the police behaviour in arresting Advocate Malesela Teffo inside the North Gauteng High Court, saying it was an assault against the dignity of the court and the judiciary.

“I would like to emphasise that the arrest of a person, let alone a lawyer, in a courtroom is completely unacceptable and should not be,” said Chief Justice Zondo.

Teffo, who represents four of the seven men charged with murdering Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, was arrested last week inside North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

He was cuffed and taken down to the court’s holding cells moments after the Meyiwa murder trial was postponed.

It should be remembered that this was the same courtroom in which Advocate Teffo appears representing his clients, the Chief Justice said

He said there was no good reason why the police could not have waited until Advocate Teffo left the courtroom and the building before they could arrest him.

“Teffo was not going to spend the evening in the courtroom. The conduct of the police in effecting the arrest inside the courtroom and how the arrest was effected on a legal practitioner and, therefore, on an officer of the court, was an assault against the dignity of the court and the judiciary,” said Chief Justice Zondo.

“An officer of the court was arrested in a manner that was unacceptable, showed disrespect for the Judiciary. Section 165(4) of the Constitution places an obligation on all organs of state, including the police, through legislative and other measures, to “assist and protect the Courts to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of the Courts.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Chief Justice Zondo said there was no good reason why the police could not have waited until Teffo left the courtroom and the building before they could arrest him.

After all, as I understand the position, the Chief Justice stated that the warrant of arrest had already been issued two months earlier and waiting for him to leave the court premises would not have made a difference.

“It is not about whether Advocate Teffo should or not have been arrested. It is about the place where the arrest was effected and the manner how it happened.”

The Chief Justice expressed the hope that the police will make sure that there are no similar incidents in our courts in the future.

Gauteng police spokesperson,  Colonel Athlenda Mathe said the incident happened just after an investigating officer had informed him of the execution of the arrest warrant and his rights while at the door on his way out, but retreated into the courtroom.

“The arresting officer followed him into the courtroom to ensure he complied, but he became uncooperative prompting police to call for Tactical Response Team (TRT) assistance to help to execute the warrant of arrest,” said Mathe.

She said that Teffo was arrested after he was on the run and wanted by the police after he skipped bail for assaulting a policewoman.

He is also accused of violating a High Court order forbidding him to enter the police building in Johannesburg.

An arrest warrant was issued and refused after failing to appear several times at the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court, including on January 27, 2022. Case has been deferred to February 10, 2022.

Colonel Mathe said that Teffo was aware of a warrant for his arrest because he had contacted the investigating officer on the matter.

She said he forfeited his bail to the state after failing to appear in court.

“Teffo had previously provided various addresses to secure his bail. A visit was made to these addresses, but it was discovered that he does not live there anymore,” Colonel Mathe said.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.