Warren Mabona
2 minute read
3 May 2016
5:00 am

Legal eagles in fight over money

Warren Mabona

It was an emotional experience, but I want my money, says advocate.

PAY ME. Advocate Richard Mkhabela talks to The Citizen at his offices in Sandton, Johannesburg, last month. Picture: Alaister Russell

Gauteng Advocate Richard Mkhabela is to sue a law firm for allegedly failing to pay him more than R320 000 for the legal services he rendered for Nafhold, the investment arm of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc).

Mkhabela told The Citizen that Dexter Selepe, co-owner of Selepe Seleke Attorneys, appointed him to represent Nafhold in a civil case over trustees in Kimberley, Northern Cape, in 2012.

The advocate said the Johannesburg-based law firm failed to pay him about R500 000 upon conclusion of the case. “The client [Nafhold] showed me proof that it paid Selepe Seleke Attorneys about R700 000 in 2012,” said Mkhabela.

“But they only paid me R200 000 in February.” The Citizen has seen a letter, dated July 9, 2014, from the Johannesburg Bar Council’s fees committee advising Mkhabela to sue Selepe for nonpayment. This was after Mkhabela lodged a complaint at the Bar against Selepe.

Mkhabela also accused the firm of allegedly offering Nafhold a 20% discount to the legal fees for the services he rendered without his consent.

According to Mkhabela, Selepe had complained that the advocate had overcharged his firm. Mkhabela said this was despite their initial oral agreement, before working on the case. “You cannot take my invoice and give it to the client, and later come back to say I had overcharged you without complaining to the Bar,” said Mkhabela.

“It was an emotional experience drafting a summons against Dexter, but I want my money.” Selepe first denied appointing Mkhabela, but after being told about the Bar Council’s letter, he said Mkhabela had overcharged him. “He must go to court if he has a claim ,” said Selepe.

“He is just out to defame me.” Nafhold CEO Michael Leaf said his company had settled the services rendered by Selepe Seleke Attorneys in full and would therefore not get involved. – warren@citizen.co.za