The disciplinary committee of the Law Society of Botswana (LSB) has found attorney Tebogo Sebego guilty of misconduct and fined him P7, 500 after his former client, Agnes Duduzile Brook filed a complaint with the LSB, accusing the attorney of abuse of office.
In August 2007, Brook and her husband engaged Sebego to represent them against an application from one Kikufu Company. They later paid Sebego P20, 000 for his services, which they believe he has not accounted for.
The couple also insist that the additional P8, 500 that Sebego charged them for court appearances was unjustified as he never appeared in court. The couple also told the committee that Sebego slapped them with a notice of taxation and bill of costs for over P30, 000 on June 3rd 2009. The couple insist that Sebego’s actions were tantamount to fraud as he did not appear in court. They added that his actions were fraudulent, malicious and intended to harm their prospects of winning the case. In its findings, the disciplinary committee of LSB said Sebego did not address this particular allegation in his affidavit and failed to explain exactly how the P24, 000 was apportioned.
In her affidavit, Agnes Brook accused Sebego of purposefully missing court on 28th September 2007, 3rd October 2007, 7th March 2008, 2nd April 2008 and 18th April 2008, thereby jeopardising her chances of winning the case. In its findings, the disciplinary committee said Sebego failed to explain why he was not present in court on some of the dates even though he charged the couple for appearing in court on the said dates.
“The complainants attached a court order for the 7th March 2008 in which Justice L.S. Walia recorded that there was no appearance from the respondents. It is only right to conclude that Sebego was wrong to charge the complainants for such an appearance and it was improper for him not to show up in court and not give any reason,” said the DC.
As to the court appearance of 2nd April, Sebego told the disciplinary committee that he had agreed with the other attorney on the matter for a postponement. However, the disciplinary committee found that Sebego failed to refute the couple’s claim that they were never informed about the agreement. The couple also produced a court order for April 2nd in which the other attorney appeared in court while Sebego did not. In its ruling the disciplinary committee said Sebego should have told the couple about the agreement as he was acting on their behalf.
“It was unprofessional for Sebego not to show up in court for the second time and his excuse that a postponement had been agreed on cannot hold water because the other attorney made an appearance,” said the disciplinary committee.
When explaining why he missed court on April 18th, Sebego said his clients consented to a postponement as more time was needed to discuss the matter. Once again, the disciplinary committee faulted Sebego for failing to provide any evidence of a postponement, while the other lawyer made an appearance in court on the same date. Though he admitted that he did not appear in court on 18th April, Sebego charged the complainants for appearing in court on the same date.
The committee also agreed with the couple that Sebego was dilatory because he produced a notice of withdrawal as their attorney on August 27th; four months after the couple sent him a letter of dismissal as their attorney. The disciplinary committee also raised issue with Sebego’s conduct during the case. Brooks complained to the LSB on 6th August 2013. Sebego was informed of the complaint on the 13th of the same month and instructed to have responded within 14 days, failing which the committee will consider it an act of misconduct and proceed against him. However, Sebego only responded on 4th March 2014 and the committee did not take action against him. The disciplinary committee said it was improper for Sebego to refer to the couple as xenophobic as he did in his affidavit. In the end, the disciplinary committee found Sebego guilty of misconduct and fined him P7, 500.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Sebego said he was not aware that the LSB had found him guilty of professional misconduct.
“Yes, my business relationship with Brooks went sour. She even insulted me and reported me to the DCEC. I don’t even know what the LSB means by professional misconduct. In any case, I will comment on the matter after they inform me of their verdict,” said Sebego.