Thembela in tears
MBABANE – Jailed lawyer Thembela Simelane was in tears yesterday when the Supreme Court dismissed his second attempt to appeal.
Simelane, serving a five-year sentence for theft of his law firm’s clients’ Motor Vehicle Accident Fund claims, was making a second attempt before the Supreme Court after his appeal was dismissed in November 2011.
The Supreme Court said it could not hear the matter again because it was dealt with and finalised last year.
The judges would not hear anything from Lindifa Mamba’s stand-in, Mduduzi Mabila, who was trying to explain his point.
Simelane, clad in a black suit, sat in the accused dock with only a Correctional Services officer about four metres away from him. He had arrived in court hand cuffed. His wife was seated just near the Courtroom A entrance behind the accused dock in the almost empty gallery which had two attorneys and members of the media and police officers who escorted the judges.
He sat quietly and would sometimes raise his head as if trying to get a clear glimpse of Mabila and the judges. The judges would not hear any explanation on why the matter had returned to court.
Attempts to get the attention of the Supreme Court judges by raising a hand from the accused dock proved futile for Simelane, as they dismissed his second appeal.
The appeal hearing lasted barely 15 minutes before Judges Ahmed Ebrahim, Dr Seth Twum and Emmanuel Agim, who dismissed the application without even hearing the Crown’s defence.
The judges said the Supreme Court had dealt with and finalised the matter during the November 2011 session when they changed Simelane’s effective six-year sentence to five years and a E58 000 fine.
Lawyer Mabila said he was standing in for Lindifa Mamba, who had been instructed by the appellant. He said he decided to come to the rescue when he realised that Mamba had not arrived when the court began and, therefore, he did not have any information on how the case ended up in court. Mamba, however, arrived in court at 9:37am and did not make a representation.
Mabila said he only helped in drafting the papers and swearing to an affidavit for Simelane’s case.
He also said he had not even taken instructions from Simelane and had only dealt with the case in the last session of the appeal.
Mabila’s efforts fell on deaf ears as they told him that the case had been finalised.
Simelane, from the accused dock, failed to grab the attention of the judges.
He would raise his hand, but no attention was paid to him.
"The appeal was dismissed and it is clearly so, unless you say the documents were falsified.
"This is the highest court of Swaziland and it prepared a judgment of more than 30 pages on this case," Judge Twum noted.
Judge Agim asked Mabila why he appeared in the case yet he had not taken instructions.
Mabila said it was unfortunate that the judges were not giving him an opportunity to explain how he ended up appearing and the purpose thereof.
Judge Ebrahim said Simelane seemed to have changed his tune in his second appeal since he was now saying he was not aware that the monies in his law firm were for the clients.
He noted that Simelane previously said he ‘borrowed from Peter to pay Paul’. He said the Supreme Court could not, again, deal with the case. As soon as the judges adjourned, Simelane, with teary eyes, was seen talking to his lawyers and later his wife who had come to support him.
No need to listen to Crown counsel - judge
MBABANE - Judge Ahmed Ebrahim, who was presiding over the case, said it would not be necessary to listen to senior Cr-own counsel, Sikhu-mbuzo Fakudze, and he dismissed the case.
"This is the end of the case. The court will adjourn," he ruled.
Simelane was seen talking to lawyers Mduduzi Mabila and Lindifa Mamba, who arrived later.
He also spent well over 20 minutes with his wife while a Correctional Services officer who was escorting him waited for them.
Simelane had been convicted by High Court Judge Mabel Agyemang, as she was then, to 35 years imprisonment for six counts of theft. She ordered that the sentences run concurrently, effectively meaning that he would spend six years in prison. The Supreme Court on appeal set aside the sentence and ordered that Simelane serve five years and pay E58 000. He could not pay.
Simelane last year went to court with over E60 000 in cash and an agreement with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that he would pay the victims back. The Supreme Court dismissed the agreement.
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