Victims of unscrupulous lawyer hope to find justice

Victims of unscrupulous lawyer, from left: Seth Mazibuko, Nani Nobebule, Tsadiki Nengusha and his business partner.

There is a growing list of complaints against an advocate, Viquelin-Kim Johnson.

Clients of an advocate, have been left in the lurch after she absconded without saying a word on the outcomes of their cases. Known to them only as Kim, they had already paid her consultation fees trusting she would take their cases to court. But she became increasingly evasive. If they happened to find her, she would respond in an unwelcome tone and in a huff, tell them she is still busy on their cases before abruptly ending their calls. She is now no longer traceable nor takes their calls.

Speaking to Elitsha, victims expressed how the experience has affected them both financially and emotionally, and how they have lost faith in the legal profession. When he left rural Bergville in KZN in the 2000s for Johannesburg, 45-year-old father of four, Zeth Mazibuko, thought his family would never experience hunger. But after working for eleven years as a cash-in-transit guard, he was unfairly dismissed and illegally detained. Ever since, he says, all he has ever wanted is justice and to restore his dignity. Intending to sue his former employer, he met Kim in the middle of 2020 after she was referred to him by a court mediator, Refiloe Khunou at the Alexandra Magistrate Court. Mazibuko says since he was also not working at the time, the advocate offered him a job as her body guard. Little did he know this was the beginning of more stress for him.

For the three months that he worked for her, Mazibuko says she did not pay the R15,000 a month salary they agreed upon and she would not even update him on his labour case. “When I asked about my salary she would tell me that she is waiting money from somewhere. Eventually she ended up not taking my calls or responding to my texts. She has since blocked my number. The last communication we had was when she terminated my contract accusing me of sharing sensitive and confidential information with third parties,” Mazibuko says.

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A visibly distraught Mazibuko is in a dire financial position and has had to sell his car to feed his family. The money has since dried up. “Honestly I’m very depressed with the whole thing.”

Another victim, Jeanette Magubane (55) says she also met the alleged advocate through Khunou. She wanted help to claim the Unemployment Insurance Funds (UIF) of her late son, estimated to be close to R200,000. She gave Kim all the documents required to claim and every time she enquired about the matter the advocate would just tell her that she is still busy on the case. “After a while, I then decided to go to the labour department where to my surprise they told me I must ask my advocate what happened to the money because according to their records, the money was paid out.

“It’s very hard to accept this kind of news. My son was the sole breadwinner and he had promised to build us a house. He would have loved to see that money changing our lives. I was heartbroken and extremely devastated when my son committed suicide. It was a painful loss beyond measure, especially since I’m the one who first saw him hanging on the roof. The conduct of Kim really rubbed salt to the wound,” Magubane says with teary eyes. She has since taken the matter up with another lawyer and she remains hopeful. Her lawyer confirms they are in the process of attaching assets and have reported the advocate to the legal council.

Jeanette Magubane showing pictures of her late son who committed suicide.

Benny Backward is another victim who, together with a business acquaintance, was swindled out of thousands of rand. “She would ask money non-stop saying it’s for the case. At some point she ran out of excuses asking for the money and requested I borrow her as she was going through some family challenges. In total I gave her around R35,000 while she was working on my case,” says Backward. He says they were suing a big construction conglomerate for millions of rands for breach of contract. They were working as sub-contractors when the company reneged on the contract. They later learned through reliable insiders that the advocate colluded with the company to fold the case. He said the experience has caused considerable financial damage to his company which was still emerging in the construction sector and now all he wants is for this advocate to be exposed and for other poor unsuspecting victims to be spared.

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In his defence, Refiloe Khunou says by recommending this advocate to the victims he did what everybody would do in his shoes. On a daily basis he says he meets many people asking for advice and Kim impressed him. “I once had a personal matter and Kim did a sterling job representing me. Obviously I can’t say the same thing now with these latest revelations. I’m equally disappointed and wish justice to all the victims. She also ignores my calls,” he says.

At the time of going to press, other victims were in the process of opening cases of fraud at a local police in Bramley, east of Johannesburg. Some say when they go look for her at her residence in Sandton, they don’t find her or they’ll be told by the security that she has moved out.

Kim was not available to comment.

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