Hitman’s lawyer wants a second chance
THE ATTORNEY who once made headlines defending the hitman who killed Swedish honeymooner Anni Hindocha, has pleaded with the Western Cape High Court to have mercy on him in deciding a Cape Law Society application to have him struck from the roll of attorneys.
And, while Judge Dennis Davis acknowledged that Matthews Dayimani and many other black legal practitioners in South Africa faced tremendous pressure on a daily basis, he said it was unconscionable for an attorney to use a client’s money for his own benefit.
The striking off application stemmed from a Road Accident Fund (RAF) claim Dayimani instituted on behalf of a client who had been involved in an accident in 2005. In settlement of the claim, the RAF paid about R270 000 into Dayimani’s trust account in May 2009.
But instead of holding on to the money in his firm’s trust account on behalf of his client, Dayimani transferred it into his business account and used it for his own benefit – paying his business expenses.
It was only four years later, when the client made inquiries, that she discovered her claim had been settled and the money paid into Dayimani’s trust account.
For a period of the time that Dayimani used his client’s RAF payout, he was defending hitman Xolile Mngeni against allegations he had killed Hindocha.
In September 2013 the matter was reported to the Cape Law Society ( CLS), and an investigation was launched.
A year later, the CLS found Dayimani guilty of contravening Law Society rules, and later instituted the High Court application to have him struck from the roll of attorneys.
In court yesterday, Dayimani did not deny the allegations.
But he begged the court for a second chance, asking it to suspend him from practising for a period of time rather than striking him off the roll. He explained the challenges he faced as a struggling attorney, who had to fork out money to try and get cases going. He was presently unemployed, he told the court.
Judge Davis acknowledged that society needed to be cognisant of the history of South Africa and pointed out that many black legal practitioners encountered insurmountable difficulties in their practices.
While everyone needed to be given a second chance in life, Judge Davis said the court had a duty to safeguard the public from the type of conduct of which Dayimani had been found guilty. He granted the striking-off application.