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Lawyer takes govt to court over payment



Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Prominent defence lawyer, Thulo Hoeane, has sought the High Court’s intervention over M68 000 he claims the government has failed to pay him since June 2015.

According to court papers the lawyer filed on 5 January 2016, the money relates to pro deo or free services Advocate Hoeane offered 14 suspects in criminal case number CRT/T/54/12. Advocate Hoeane says he was given the assignment by the office of the High Court Registrar. In a pro deo case, a lawyer represents the accused free of charge on the understanding that the  legal costs would be paid by the state at the instruction of the court. However, the lawyer was not immediately available to say when exactly did he represent the accused and what charges they were facing.

Advocate Hoeane noted in his founding affidavit: “I am the applicant herein and advocate of this Honourable Court duly admitted as such. On or about 28 June 2015, I submitted for payment to the office of the First Respondent (High Court Registrar) a claim for work done in CRT/T/54/12, indicating the number of accused persons I represented in the aforesaid criminal trial, the number of days I appeared in court and the amount due for payment.

“The aforesaid claim was duly perused by the officers of the First Respondent and was approved by First Respondent who in turn submitted it to the Accounts Department for payment. I must reiterate that the claim is not being queried in any manner by the First Respondent and or any of the officers subordinate to him.

“I have to aver that since that time, I have made several representations to the First Respondent to have the aforesaid claim paid but to no avail. It is against this background of facts that I am invoking the intervention of this Honourable Court to prevail upon the First Respondent to do the right thing and pay the aforesaid claim in line with my prayers as set out in the Notice of Motion.

“Needless to say this state of affairs has visited upon me and my family severe prejudice and I humbly pray this Honourable Court to order him to pay the aforesaid claim with immediate effect.”

Advocate Hoeane further cites Justice and Correctional Service Principal Secretary and the Attorney General as second and third respondents respectively, in the matter. The case is yet to be scheduled for hearing before the High Court.

Contacted yesterday about the issue, High Court Registrar Lesitsi Mokeke told the Sunday Express: “I am aware of the case which Mr Hoeane filed in relation to his claim, although I have not seen the court documents. It is true that we owe him M68 000 for a long time now, and it is not only him who is being owed. We have other people still being owed and whose claims have not been processed because we are facing financial problems.

“We attempted to pay Mr Hoeane some money that we had so that we could reduce the amount we owed him, but he could not agree to take the offer unless it was the full amount. We can only wait with the hope that soon the funds will be available so that we can process his payment in full.”


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