The Law Society of Zimbabwe has barred 35 lawyers from operating after they failed to renew their practising certificates while others are facing disciplinary action or have abandoned the practice.
The LSZ is reportedly investigating several lawyers countrywide in connection with corruption and theft of clients’ funds. LSZ president Vimbayi Nyemba, yesterday said lawyers whose names appeared on the published list had not complied with the society’s regulations.
“We don’t give practising certificates to certain lawyers whom we suspect to be potentially dangerous to the public,” said Nyemba.
“Some of them haven’t had their Trust accounts audited. Some have even abandoned their practice while others were suspended pending investigation for various misconduct.”
Nyemba said lawyers owed a duty to the members of the public to ensure that they were protected.
She said once the listed lawyers were cleared or complied with the regulations of the society, they would be issued with the practising certificates.
“We regulate the operations of lawyers and in the process, we weed out suspected bad apples in the noble profession,” she said. Nyemba said the law society would play its role in helping the country combat corruption in the justice delivery system.
However, the prevailing economic hardships characterised by the liquidity crunch, closure of companies and high unemployment have not spared the legal fraternity, with an increasing number of lawyers engaging in crime.
Some lawyers on the list are; Osca Hute, of Hute and Partners Legal Practitioners in Harare who has been implicated in an alleged abuse of over $24,000 in trust funds after converting proceeds from the sale of a client’s property to his own use.
Hute allegedly wrote to his client, Mandy Nyama, confirming he would reimburse the $24,000 he converted to personal use after being entrusted with the money.
Another Harare lawyer Fiona Machekeche, allegedly abused over $42,000 belonging to Marlvin Mbazima.
She was suspended from practice for up to six weeks while investigations were being carried out to clarify what happened to the funds. Her law firm, Machekeche and Partners, was also placed under curatorship.
Bulawayo law firm Cheda and Partners was placed under curatorship last year after the legal profession regulator, detected alleged abuse of trust funds running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The law firm’s demise was triggered when its two senior partners, Sindiso Mazibisa and Mlamuli Ncube, surrendered their practising certificates. The duo remain suspended pending de-registration.
They are accused of theft involving $335,000 trust funds.
The third senior partner, Nqobizitha Ndlovu, was later suspended by LSZ for interfering with the curator Advocate Perpetua Dube’s duties. Over the past few years a number of lawyers have appeared in courts on allegations of embezzlement of client’s funds.
This resulted in the LSZ closing some firms and de-registering lawyers for lack of professional conduct. Many lawyers lost their practising certificates after being convicted by the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal, which is chaired by a High Court judge. herald