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ADVOCATE HELLENS WAS ONCE CHARGED - LSS

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MBABANE - The LSS says the South African advocate who is prosecuting in the murder trial of Sipho Shongwe failed to disclose relevant information in his application for admission.


The Law Society of Swaziland (LSS) is vigorously opposing the application for admission filed by Advocate Michael Robert Hellens.
 Advocate Hellens, who was once an acting judge of the High Court of South Africa, is accused of having failed to disclose that he was once charged with unprofessional conduct.


Gift


During his tenure as an acting judge, Hellens is alleged to have taken a bag containing R500 000 in cash as a ‘gift’ from self-confessed tobacco smuggler and alleged fraudster Adriano Mazzotti.


Mazzotti was once accused of being a major benefactor of the African National Congress (ANC) presidential campaign of Nkosazane Zuma-Dlamini, an allegation he denied.  He also reportedly sponsored the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), enabling the party to contest the 2014 general elections.
 Mazzotti has emerged as a central character in The President Keepers:  those who kept Zuma in power and out of prison.


In his opposing affidavit, LSS Secretary General Thulani Maseko submitted that when vetting Hellens, the society discovered that he had neglected to state that he was once charged with unprofessional conduct for having accepted an amount of R500 000 as a ‘gift’.  Maseko pointed out that the story about Hellens appeared in the South African Sunday Times of November 5, 2017.


He highlighted that according to the articles, Hellens admitted to having accepted the said amount and was accordingly reprimanded by the Johannesburg Bar Council.


Maseko averred that Hellens failed to set out in full, details of his alleged unprofessional conduct and the charges he faced during his disciplinary hearing.
“He has failed to detail the outcome of his disciplinary hearing and thereby depriving the court the opportunity to satisfy itself that he is a proper person to practise and admitting him to the profession in this jurisdiction involves no danger to the public and no danger to the good name of the profession,” argued Maseko.


Misconduct


He emphasised that Hellens did not set out the full details of his alleged misconduct and without that, the High Court of Eswatini should not admit him.
The LSS secretary general further told the court that the director of public prosecutions (DPP), who had instructed Hellens, also failed to demonstrate the need for a non- resident advocate and why local advocates could not properly handle Shongwe’s criminal trial.


Maseko contended that what further compounded the situation was that the office of the DPP employed personnel who had been practising criminal law for over 20 years.


“It is therefore inconceivable that the DPP would fail to handle the matter proceedings (Shongwe’s murder trial),” contended Maseko.
He told the court that on that premise alone, it was submitted that the High Court should not grant Hellens the right of audience.


“It is on that premise that the LSS respectfully avers that Hellens has failed to satisfy the requirements for admission of a non-resident advocate as set out in Section 5 (2) as read with Section 28 to 30 of the Legal Practitioners Act,” submitted the LSS secretary general.


Maseko told the court that on September 4, 2019, the council of the Law Society met to discuss Hellens’s application.  He claimed that it was during this meeting that the council resolved to oppose the application and authorised him in his capacity as the secretary general to depose to an affidavit in opposition to Hellens’s application.
Hellens’s application will be argued on September 16, 2019 before Chief Justice Bheki Maphalala

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