Lawyers hunt soccer royalty for millions in unpaid bills

Soccer boss Kaizer Motaung and wife Julegka Motaung. /Thembinkosi Dwayisa
Soccer boss Kaizer Motaung and wife Julegka Motaung. /Thembinkosi Dwayisa

South Africa's football royal family, the Motaungs, are facing a R3-million lawsuit over unpaid legal fees for work done on several court actions they were involved in.

The family, who owns glamour club Kaizer Chiefs, were slapped with the legal action by their lawyers after they allegedly failed to settle a R9.5-million legal bill in full.

Kaizer snr, his wife, Julegka, and their son, retired footballer Kaizer Jnr, are cited as defendants in court papers filed on Wednesday by their lawyers, Steve Merchak Attorney. 

As a result of the nonpayment, the law firm has also withdrawn their services from all pending legal matters involving the Motaung family as of March 2 2018 until all their invoices are settled.

Merchak, represented by Tirhani Tshabalala of Tshabalala Attorneys, Notaries and Conveyancers, filed summons at the South Gauteng High Court claiming that the football family paid R6.5-million of a R9.5-million legal bill.

According to Merchak's affidavit, the Motaung family entered into an agreement with the law firm in July 2015 during which they sought legal services on behalf of their son for his legal battles.

As part of the oral agreement, it is claimed that the family agreed to pay fees, expenses and charges related to services provided by clerks, professional assistants and other personnel.

The law firm's fees were initially set at R1750 per hour for Merchak himself, R1100 per hour for associates and R500 per hour for article clerks and R250 per hour for personal assistants.

These exclude fees for advocates, consultants and experts.
Further expenses include company and title deed searches, courier fees, photocopy and fax charges, lodgement and registration fees, travel and accommodation expenses.

The Motaung family was charged R2 per page for all their photocopying and fax services, R3 per page for transmitting and R2 per page for receiving documents.

The law firm, according to legal papers filed, initiated and defended 24 court appearances and actions on behalf of the family in various courts including at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein in the period between 2016 and 2018.

The summons also state that at some point in 2016, Merchak's hourly fees increased from R1750 per hour to R1900 per hour and R600 for his article clerks from R500.

In 2017, Merchak's hourly fees increased to R2050 per hour, and the law firm had in their legal team three associates to help with the cases. One associate was drawing an hourly rate of R1150, with another charging R1050 and the other was on a retainer of R950.

The papers show that Merchak's fees further escalated to R2150 per hour in 2018. In total, the legal services provided between 2016 and 2018, according to the court papers, totalled a staggering R9.5-million.

"The defendants made payments towards the plaintiff's bills in the total amount of ... R6519387.77, thus rendering a balance in respect of of the capital in the amount of R3055188.84, which is due, owing and payable," reads the summons.

Julegka Motaung told Sunday World that she knew nothing about the summons and both Motaung men could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Yesterday Kaizer Jnr dropped the phone after we asked him about the matter.
Tshabalala, who filed papers on behalf of Merchak, could not be reached for comment.