Hit­man’s lawyer wants a sec­ond chance

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - FA­TIMA SCHROEDER

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.

fa­tima.schroeder@inl.co.za

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