Vitriol-spewing advocate gets second bloody nose from judge
He has 'a penchant for flouting court rules, conducting frivolous litigation, then accusing the judge of impropriety'
Less than a year after he got a bloody nose for accusing a judge who ruled against him of lying and racism, a high court advocate has done it again.
Sepheka Mthenjwa’s latest judicial savaging came at the hands of an acting Labour Court judge he accused of being biased, reckless, vicious and immoral.
Dismissing Mthenjwa’s application for leave to appeal in a Johannesburg labour court case, acting judge Sean Snyman said: “He did not heed what was clearly a warning about this kind of conduct, and has in essence done the same again.”
Snyman ordered Mthenjwa, from Kraaifontein in Cape Town, to pay the costs of the labour court case from his own pocket, saying he should have known his application was doomed to failure.
“The fact that it is still being pursued indicates to me that what this is all about is ... legal fees,” he said.
In 2017, Mthenjwa complained to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) that Cape Town High Court judge Elize Steyn was a liar and a racist. Steyn had dismissed an urgent application he brought on behalf of a client because the advocate did not arrive in court.
When the JSC judicial conduct committee ruled against him, Mthenjwa applied to the high court for permission to sue Steyn, but Northern Cape judge president Pule Tlaletsi was scathing about him.
“His incautiousness was expressed in his papers and during his address,” Tlaletsi said in his judgment in November 2017.
“He accused [Steyn] of racism, an ‘attempted bribe’ [and said] ‘it brings out her deceitful character’. These are strong allegations which should not be lightly made against a person, worse against a judicial officer.”
Mthenjwa’s latest scrape followed Snyman’s dismissal in August of an urgent application he brought on behalf of a client. In his application for leave to appeal, the advocate made a series of allegations against the acting judge, which Snyman said were “entirely baseless and egregious”.
He also told Snyman he had “taken the liberty” of looking into his background, as a result of which he had concluded he was biased – an accusation the acting judge described as “scandalous”.
Snyman said last week: “There seems to be a complete, if not deliberate, lack of appreciation on the part of [Mthenjwa] of the ethical standards, integrity and dignity that is integral to the profession of an attorney or an advocate.
“It would seem that [Mthenjwa] has a penchant for flouting court rules and conducting frivolous litigation, and then accusing the presiding judge of impropriety.”