Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

Hlophe’s attorney found in contempt of court, fined R30K

The attorney was also ordered to surrender his Porsche 911 Carrera and was sentenced to 30 days imprisonment, wholly suspended for three years.

Another loss has been handed down for Western Cape Judge President Judge John Hlophe’s attorney, Barnabas Xulu, after he was found guilty of contempt of court.

This comes after Xulu was dealt another defeat last month in his bid to wrest back control of millions of rands worth of his frozen assets.

In the judgment delivered on Tuesday, 4 May, Xulu was found in contempt of six civil court orders granted by the Western Cape High Court and sentenced to 30 days imprisonment, wholly suspended for three years.

The attorney was also ordered to pay a R30,000 fine and surrender to Porsche 911 Carrera by Friday, 7 May.

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In addition, his firm, B Xulu & Partners Incorporated (BXI), also has to pay the legal costs of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

The matter stems from Xulu’s multimillion-rand fee dispute with the department.

Last January, the high court found BXI had unlawfully been paid about R20 million in legal fees by the department and ordered he repay it by 30 April.

It was found by Judge Owen Rogers that BXI had received the payments for work done based on invalid writs of execution and notices of attachment, as the department was entitled to free legal advice from the state attorney.

Rogers also found that the court’s writs of execution were not checked for compliance with the State Liability Act – the act governing work done by any contractor on behalf of the state.

Xulu has since approached the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) to overturn the ruling.

Contempt of court

Western Cape High Court Judge AJ Pangarker, who handed down the judgment, said that Xulu and his firm had gone against section 165(5) of the Constitution.

“They have acted with impunity and the utmost contempt and it is of great concern that an attorney has conducted himself in continued willful defiance and bad faith in the manner set out in this judgment.

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Pangarker also rejected arguments made by Xulu’s legal representative the department had sought to embarrass his client and BXI.

“I respectfully disagree with this submission. The evidence, which is undisputed, paints a picture of a law firm and its director who have flagrantly, deliberately and defiantly disrespected and refused to comply with court orders granted by various judges of the Western Cape High Court.

“Rather than comply, as required, BXI and Xulu embarked on urgent applications that were ultimately dismissed,” Pangarker said.

Recusal application

In April this year, Xulu saw his application for Western Cape High Court Judge Ashley Binns-Ward’s recusal dismissed as well as his appeal against orders that his personal and business assets be attached.

The judgment was handed down by Binns-Ward, who in November confirmed an anti-dissipation order against Xulu.

Binns-Ward also dismissed Xulu’s application for leave to appeal his November ruling after the high court in October handed down an interim order freezing Xulu’s assets, which the judge confirmed in November.

Additional reporting by Bernadette Wicks

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John Hlophe Western Cape High Court