Sunday Times

Rich accused spend millions to lawyer up


How much would you pay to fight for your freedom?

Henri van Breda, accused of murdering his parents and brother, has poured millions of rands into his defence at the High Court in Cape Town, and defence counsel Piet Botha said last week he had just about “run out of funds”.

With 50 court days already behind him, Van Breda has probably paid in excess of R2million to his advocates — Botha and Matthys Brink — and attorney Lorinda van Niekerk.

In a neighbouri­ng court, Jason Rohde — accused of murdering his wife, Susan — has just begun throwing his own piles of money into the wishing well of justice.

In 2014 the Rules Board for Courts of Law considered regulating tariffs for advocates in civil matters.

Among the proposals was a day fee of R22 200 for an advocate with more than 20 years’ experience.

If these tariffs had come into effect Botha, with more than 21 years’ experience, could have earned almost R1-million since the start of the trial.

Cape Bar Council secretary Adiel Nacerodien said advocates could charge whatever their clients were willing to pay.

“There used to be a set tariff, but there was a court case that overruled the tariff in a competitio­n law context, basically saying that it is uncompetit­ive for the Cape Bar to set tariffs, so that’s been done away with,” he said.

Rohde and his phalanx of legal representa­tives look like they are fresh from a movie set complete with designer shades, tailored suits, slicked-back hair and stern expression­s.

Rohde told the court during his bail applicatio­n that he is worth about R30-million, and he is spending a chunk of it on four advocates — Pete Mihalik, Graham van der Spuy, Ross McKernan and Stacey Webb — as well as attorney Daniel Witz.

Witz declined to comment on Rohde’s legal bills but a senior legal expert, who did not want to be named, said they were probably at least R80 000 a day. A senior advocate put the bill at R60 000.

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