Top lawyer sues police

Top lawyer sues police

MASERU – IN January 2020 the police summoned Advocate Zwelakhe Mda to their headquarters.
Sensing that something was amiss, he asked three lawyers to accompany him to the meeting.
There, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Paseka Mokete, who was head of the criminal investigation department, explained the purpose of the meeting.

DCP Mokete, a lawyer himself, told Advocate Mda they wanted him to surrender the M21 000 he had received as legal fees from a man who had been arrested and detained.
The reason, DCP Mokete said, was that the money was part of the proceeds of a crime and Advocate Mda should not have received it.
DCP Mokete eventually forced Advocate Mda to withdraw the money from his account and hand it to him. Now Advocate Mda is suing for a refund.
In an application filed in the High Court this week, Advocate Mda says the police had no right to take the money from him. He wants the police to make the refund with 18.5 percent interest.

Other respondents are Police Minister Lepota Sekola, Justice Minister Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane and the Attorney General.
Advocate Mda, in his affidavit, said the police took him to the Robbery and Car Theft Section (RCTS) near the Mejametalana Military Airbase. He was accompanied by Attorney Thulo Mahlakeng, Advocate Motiea Teele and Advocate Maema.
He said DCP Mokete told him that he would not be released until he surrendered the money.

At the time Advocate Mda was representing one Mahlomola Mokonyane in a habeas corpus case after the police had arrested and detained him.
“They claimed that the wife of the said Mahlomola was in their custody and that the wife had informed them that she used the money obtained by her husband from a robbery to pay professional fees at my chambers for me to prosecute the husband’s habeas corpus application,” Advocate Mda said.
He had been instructed by T Mahlakeng Attorneys to represent Mokonyane.
Advocate Mda told the court that when DCP Mokete called him he had an appointment with his doctors in Bloemfontein.

“I instructed Mr Teele to convey my attitude and my state of health. He did. When he came back he told me together with Mr Mahlakeng and Advocate Maema that the policemen were insisting that they nevertheless wanted the money and that unless I withdrew the money they were detaining me.”
“I was feeling weak on account of my ill-health but I was determined that the said policemen should go ahead and detain me if they were so minded.”
He said Advocate Teele reasoned with him that “it would be folly of me to risk my life to fail to attend a life-saving check-up in Bloemfontein”.

The police then accompanied Advocate Mda and his lawyers to a bank in Maseru West Industrial Area where he withdrew the money.
After that, he said, DCP Mokete went to PC FM Radio and alleged that the money was the proceeds of crime and that Advocate Mda should not have accepted it as fees.
“He further alleged that there was an aspect of money laundering involved in the payment of such fees,” he said.

Staff Reporter

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