Lawyer hands himself in over missing R1.8m
Mossel Bay attorney struck off roll by court, may face criminal prosecution
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-
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.