New delay for lawyer Michael Randell’s trial

Kathryn Kimberley

PORT Elizabeth attorney Michael Randell has been ordered to make a list of every judge he has appeared in front of before his case can be set down for trial.

Randell is accused of defrauding Greenwood Primary in Port Elizabeth out of R2.5-million while serving on the school governing body. The allegations date back to between 1999 and 2006.

Although the trial was due to start in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court yesterday, state Advocate Wilhelm de Villiers said the director of Public Prosecutions was still deliberating whether or not to transfer the matter to a higher court.

He foresaw a problem because, as an attorney, Randell had appeared in front of most judges in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

Randell’s co-accused in the matter has already been convicted of the fraud. A separation of trials was ordered earlier this year when former Greenwood headmaster Patrick Shelver opted to plead guilty to the charges.

Shelver, 55, who now lives in Thailand, was accordingly convicted, and on January 26 he was sentenced to pay a fine of R10000 a month for the next five years, or serve 10 years in prison.

To date he has failed to make a single repayment. His suspended sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment could now come into effect.

Randell made a name for himself when he pioneered several successful court cases against the provincial Education Department. There is a pending application by the Cape Law Society for Randell to be struck from the roll of attorneys.

He stands accused of colluding with Shelver to defraud the Park Drive primary school out of millions by pocketing money from the sale of a school property.

De Villiers said the DPP had indicated that the matter should be transferred to the Port Elizabeth High Court.

However, because Randell had represented many clients in the high court, De Villiers said most judges were familiar with him. This could create a problem, he added.

Magistrate Louis Claassen ordered Randell to make a list of all the judges he had appeared before. He said the list should then be given to Eastern Cape Judge President Themba Sangoni to make a decision.

Defence attorney Deon Oelofse said he would also have to make an application to the high court to release some of Randell’s funds, which had been attached by the Asset Forfeiture Unit pending the outcome of trial.

Claassen postponed the matter to May 14 for the DPP’s decision. He also ordered the state to furnish the defence with copies of the indictment.

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