- Lawyer Barnabas Xulu had his bank accounts frozen by court order.
- A settlement agreement is the subject of a dispute between Xulu and the Ministry of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.
- The department secured orders to freeze his bank accounts and secured a house and Porsche until the matter was resolved.
Some of the bank accounts of well-known attorney Barnabas Xulu were frozen by the Western Cape Supreme Court in a long-standing battle with the Ministry of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries over legal fees paid by the ministry.
Xulu did legal work for the department, but the validity of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and settlement agreement has been the subject of a long standing dispute and internal battles that have impacted the Supreme Court.
It included fees for a convicted lobster smuggler to handle a complex $ 7.5 million refund agreement between US authorities, overseas banking institutions, and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Xulu's services were slated to end in August 2018, with the exception of the U.S. case, but the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (before the department was split into the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries) and the Treasury Department agreed to do so to settle an amount of R20 million.
The problems then escalated over whether or not the agreement was valid.
The parties argued about who owes whom and whether they should repay the money.
A decision in favor of both divisions dated October 12 announced that Xulu and the company – Barnabus Xulu & Partners Incorporated – should provide reasons why it should not pay R20 242 272. 90.
In the meantime, Incovision (Pty) Ltd, Setlacorp (Pty) Ltd and Xulu have been instructed not to allow funds to be transferred, inferred or withdrawn from their accounts.
READ | The top lawyer Barnabas Xulu ordered the repayment of R 20 million to the fisheries department
This includes money that has been received or is to be received in the future without the department's permission. In addition, First National Bank and Investec Bank were prohibited from allowing funds to be sent, inferred, or withdrawn from the three accounts, or any company over which Xulu has control.
Incovision and Xulu were banned over property in Sheffield Beach, KwaZulu-Natal. An inventory of the assets on the property must be taken and no assets may be removed from it.
The sheriff in the area was instructed to enter the property for inventory and if necessary or forcibly take a locksmith, and the services of Tracker should be used to track down and secure the Porsche.
Xulu told News24 that it was the refund payment and services provided to get the money back to the South African government and to offset the loss of the country's marine resources in the lobster case.
This agreement also included a carefully brokered settlement with the defendants in the US and banks in other countries.
"The question is, does it have to be done for free or does the state have to pay for this sweat," Xulu told News24 in a WhatsApp message when asked for comment.
"Bxi (Xulu) is presented as a criminal who should not be arrested but made a victim," he said.
First National Bank and Investec Bank must also provide the department's bank statements held by Incovision, Setlacorp and Xulu between July 1, 2019 and the date of the order.
The order remains in place until the R20 million matter is fully negotiated.
Xulu had been instructed in January to repay the money by April.
This also takes place after a request by the department on October 6th, in which Xulu was to pay interest of R 3.4 million and R 380,000 by the close of business on October 5.
A later resolution dated October 15 also prevented the transfer of any interest related to ownership of the Sheffield property.
The orders were made in the Western Cape Supreme Court, where Xulu happened to also represent Judge President John Hlophe on matters pending on the Judicial Service Commission.