Kebby Maphatsoe under fire from law firm

MK veteran Kebby Maphatsoe. / Waldo Swiegers
MK veteran Kebby Maphatsoe. / Waldo Swiegers

The defamation case by former minister of intelligence Ronnie Kasrils continues to haunt the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association and its president Kebby Maphatsoe.

After being ordered by court in 2016 to fork out a R500,000 settlement, including legal costs, for defaming Kasrils, the deputy minister for military veterans and the MKMVA are being sued for more than R1.4m by their own lawyers, Madhlopa and Thenga Attorneys, for legal services rendered. 

These include defending him in the defamation case.

The law firm, which handled other legal matters on behalf of the ANC-affiliated organisation, filed papers at the Johannesburg High Court two weeks ago demanding payment for all representations made on behalf of Maphatsoe and MKMVA, stating that all attempts to secure payment from the two have failed.

In papers filed in court and seen by Sunday World, Madhlopa and Thenga Attorneys said it had entered into an agreement to render various legal services including criminal, civil litigation matters, registrations and amendments of trusts for the MKMVA between May 2016 and July 2018.

However, it said, despite the agreement that the law firm will submit invoices after every matter was handled for immediate payment, the organisation failed to comply with its obligations.

"The plaintiff complied with its obligations in that I rendered legal services as instructed by the defendant, and generated invoices to the defendant, which invoices remain unpaid.

"The defendant is in breach of its obligations in that it failed to pay amounts which are due to the plaintiff for services rendered. The defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the amount of R1,414,056. 62."

According to court papers, of the R1.4m owed to the lawyers by MKMVA, R560,000 emanates from the defamation case. Other legal costs related to different cases.

Kasrils had sued Maphatsoe and his organisation for defamation after the MK vets leader claimed Kasrils was the one who engineered the 2015 rape charges against former president Jacob Zuma.

Maphatsoe claimed that Kasrils was the one who set up Zuma's accuser Khwezi as a honey trap to discredit the former president.

Zuma was acquitted of the charges, while Khwezi fled into exile after the case. She later returned home and died last year.

After winning the defamation case, Kasrils promised to donate the money to a foundation named after Khwezi.

The law firm said that despite being made aware of the outstanding legal fees, MKMVA neglected to pay.

The company now demands the balance plus 10.25% interest.

MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus confirmed knowledge of the legal application and said it is currently in discussions about the matter.

"Yes I can confirm that there's an issue about outstanding legal fees with the lawyers some of whom were invited by the previous leadership of MKMVA before the conference.

"We are also aware that among the cases covered by the lawyers was the Ronnie Kasrils case. We are engaging with the attorneys to find an amicable settlement on the matter."

A representative of Madhlopa and Thenga Attorneys confirmed the case but said he needed to consult with his partners to check if the matter was filed in court.

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