Lawyer hands him­self in over missing R1.8m

Mos­sel Bay at­tor­ney struck off roll by court, may face crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - JADE WIT­TEN

A MOS­SEL Bay at­tor­ney who mis­ap­pro­pri­ated R1.8 mil­lion in trust funds has been struck off the roll of attorneys by the Western Cape High Court.

The Cape Law So­ci­ety took Hans Jurie Zi­ets­man to court af­ter he re­ported the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion to the Law So­ci­ety through lawyer.

Zi­ets­man, who prac­tised as an at­tor­ney un­til July last year, mainly in divorce and prop-

an

in­ter me­di­ary erty mat­ters, did not op­pose the so­ci­ety’s ap­pli­ca­tion.

De­liv­er­ing judg­ment yes­ter­day, Judge Daniel Dlodlo and Judge Ashley Binns-Ward re­marked that the mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of trust funds was “about the worst pro­fes­sional sin that an at­tor­ney can com­mit”.

“There can be no ques­tion in the cir­cum­stances that (Zi­ets­man) is not a fit and proper per­son to con­tinue in prac­tice as an at­tor­ney.”

De­tails of Zi­ets­man’s mis­con­duct needed to be set out clearly in the court pa­pers, the court said, as it “might be­come of in­ter­est should the at­tor­ney ap­ply for re-ad­mis­sion”.

The judges agreed that it would, for ex­am­ple, be im­por­tant to note that the “delin­quent at­tor ney” had turned him­self in and had not been re­ported by a client to the law so­ci­ety, or that the mis­con­duct was dis­cov­ered af­ter an au­dit was con­ducted.

The clients who lost money were ad­vised to sub­mit com- pen­sa­tion claims to the Attorneys Fidelity Fund.

Cape Law So­ci­ety di­rec­tor Nalini Gan­gen said attorneys were placed in a po­si­tion of trust and that so­ci­ety took at­tor­ney mis­con­duct very se­ri­ously.

Gan­gen said in cases like this the law so­ci­ety would first have the er­rant at­tor­ney struck from the roll, and then the case would be trans­ferred to the Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crimes Court in Bel­lville for pros­e­cu­tion.

In a sim­i­lar case, for­mer at­tor­ney Carl John Bot­man, who stole R400 000 from poor Cape Flats fam­i­lies dur­ing a dis­pute with a Cape Town hous­ing com­pany, was jailed for 10 months last year.

An­other for mer at­tor ney, Charles Miskey of Dur­banville, was jailed for an ef­fec­tive eight years in Au­gust on mul­ti­ple fraud and theft charges.

“This should send a loud mes­sage that mis­con­duct and crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity will not be tol­er­ated,” Gan­gen said.

jade.wit­ten@inl.co.za

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