In an effort to clear courtrooms of unqualified attorneys and fake lawyers, last Tuesday the police nabbed Meshack Nyakaswa, 42, a Zimbabwean who has allegedly been masquerading as a legal practitioner.
Nyakaswa allegedly collected money from unsuspecting clients who had sought legal representation.
Last October, the police also arrested another Zimbabwean, a former soldier called Limukani Moyo for a similar offence whose case is ongoing at the Village Magistrate’s Court.
Similarly, Moyo who faces 14 counts of fraud allegedly pretended to be a lawyer and collected over P62,000 from unsuspecting clients who sought legal representation.
Nyakaswa was arrested along with Nkosana Admire Ngwenya, 27, of Ngwenya and Associates, a qualified attorney who is accused of hiring him as his assistant despite not holding a work permit or exemption certificate to work in Botswana.
The court revealed that even though he is a trained lawyer, Ngwenya has been operating a law firm in Phase 2, Gaborone without residence and work permits from September 2017 to date and allegedly unlawfully remained in Botswana for more than 292 days.
The particulars of Nyakaswa’s obtaining by false pretences charge state that between October 22, 2015 and February 19, 2016 in Gaborone with intent to defraud obtained P6,300 from Loeto Rebatenne of Gaborekwe General Dealer and Fresh Produce as legal fees by falsely pretending that he was a duly registered lawyer and admitted as such in Botswana whilst he knew that the information was false.
In the second obtaining by false pretences charge, Nyakaswa is alleged to have on July 8, 2015 at Regional Office Immigration in Gaborone, with the intent to defraud, obtained Botswana resident permit no: 1000158126 under the pretext that he is the managing director of MEEM Enterprises (PTY) Ltd, a company which is non-existent yet operating, information he knew was false. Appearing before Broadhurst Magistrate Tshepo Thedi, representing the State, Kedumetse Shamukani pleaded with the court to remand the accused persons in custody, stating that investigations into the matter were still ongoing.
In his appearance the Investigating Officer (IO) in the matter, detective senior Superintendent Sergeant Marapo
He said he is currently waiting for responses from magistrates’ and high courts where the duo is suspected to have been representing their clients.
“I arrested the duo last Tuesday after I discovered that Ngwenya is an illegal immigrant who has been operating a law firm illegally after his permit expired last August.
Since then, Ngwenya has been appearing before courts without work and residence permits. I have also established that Nyakaswa masqueraded as a lawyer after Ngwenya hired him as his assistant,” Marapo said.
He told the court that he has seized 312 files for the people that Nyakaswa represented at both Magistrates’ and High Courts.
Marapo told the court that Nyakaswa claimed to be a holder of a Bachelor Degree in Law from a university in Zimbabwe having graduated back in 2004, but it turned out that the certificate belongs to his late brother.
“His operating in Botswana as a lawyer is not genuine. I have discovered that back in 2014, Nyakaswa did his Diploma in law at Gaborone University College.
“How can someone who holds a degree later enrol for a diploma course? Something is fishy here. Even in his passport under profession it is written lawyer,” the IO said.
He stated that despite being a trained lawyer and obtaining his degree at the University of Botswana, Ngwenya has been operating his law firm illegally as its permit had expired last year.
Asked if they had anything to say, Nyakaswa said he did not have anything to say. For his part, Ngwenya said for the purpose of not prolonging the process, he thought it wise for the State to be given the requested time to conclude their investigations.
The duo’s plea was reserved and they were remanded in custody. They are due in court again in June 28, 2018.