Long arm of the law reaches for Langebaan ‘lawyer’…

Irina Baranova

A plumbing company manager who went on to head a law firm has been accused of misrepresenting himself as a legal practitioner in South Africa and the UK, with claims that he duped clients and wore a religious cassock instead of a legal robe.

Police have confirmed they are investigating the matter.

This week, Daily Maverick repeatedly tried to get hold of Jacobus Frederik Enslin, also known as Fred Enslin, of the firm Enslin and Olivier based in the Western Cape town of Langebaan, so he could comment on accusations. Emails bounced back and messages and calls to numbers linked to the firm did not go through or were not replied to. In the absence of a response from Enslin, claims about him are still under investigation and yet to be tested in court.

Liquidation applications

On Monday 9 May, a notice of motion by a mining machinery company to apply for Enslin and Olivier Incorporated to be finally or provisionally liquidated was filed in the Western Cape High Court.

In a founding court affidavit in this matter, one of the grounds the application was being brought was because Enslin, “acting under the name and style of [Enslin and Olivier Incorporated], is conducting unlawful practices to the prejudice of the South African public”.

Last month in the Gauteng High Court, the mining machinery company pressed ahead with a similar liquidation application relating to another of Enslin’s companies, JF Enslin Legal Services (PTY) Ltd, with an address in Tshwane.

Daily Maverick understands this latter motion was not opposed.

Virtual proceedings, ‘religious attire’ and an award

An affidavit in this matter said that in June 2021 Enslin “orchestrated a virtual hearing that lasted for nine days”, during which he was the only person visible on screen to a client.

It said this client photographed Enslin “in his court attire and robe”, but an attorney later pointed out this garment was not of a type normally worn by legal practitioners and appeared to be a religious item purchased online.

Enslin and Olivier’s website says: “Enslin and Olivier Incorporated was formed in March 2021 after the founding directors, Dr JF Enslin and Ms Stephanie Olivier, both professional and qualified entrepreneurs, combined their expertise and skills…

“Dr Enslin brings 20 years commercial law, corporate law and business law experience… Most of Dr Enslin’s experience was gained by working aboard and his duties include preparing documents, assessing partnerships, and negotiating deals.” [sic]

Last year Enslin represented South Africa when he featured as “arbitration lawyer of the year” in Lawyer Monthly’s Legal Awards. Lawyer Monthly says on its website it is a news site and a monthly legal publication.

DM 168 inquired whether Enslin or the firm were registered with South Africa’s Legal Practice Council.

Questions over qualifications and registration

Council’s spokesperson Kabelo Letebele replied: “According to our records, there is neither a legal practitioner listed under the name Jacobus Frederik Enslin… nor a firm bearing the name Enslin and Olivier, registered with the Legal Practice Council.”

Elzani Coetzer, an attorney aware of matters relating to Enslin, explained that legal practitioners “had to be registered with the Legal Practice Council … to offer legal services to clients”.

A copy of Enslin’s resume says he obtained a master’s degree in law from Middlesex University in the UK. The resume also says he has qualifications from the University of Pretoria, the University of the Free State and the University of South Africa.

However, these universities do not seem to have records of Enslin.

Queue, the beloved country – Welcome to Aaron Motsoaledi’s dysfunctional Department of Home Affairs

Chad Thomas, financial and organised crime investigator at IRS Forensic Investigations, said an attorney representing several complainants who paid Enslin legal fees had appointed IRS to look into the matter.

The complainants, Thomas said, were “led to believe that Enslin was a duly registered and ‘very experienced’ legal practitioner”.

However, he said an IRS investigation showed “Enslin was not a registered legal practitioner” and his qualifications were allegedly fabricated.

“What was of concern is that Enslin had used some of these allegedly fabricated qualifications to gain admission to several self-governing legal-type associations,” Thomas said.

A criminal complaint was lodged in Langebaan.

R4.5-million and investigations

“This case was opened,” Thomas said, “on behalf of the multiple complainant groups that Enslin allegedly defrauded for an amount of approximately R4.5-million for so-called ‘legal services’.”

Thomas added that a Northern Cape company had had to retrench staff, allegedly because of “incorrect legal advice”.

Western Cape police spokesperson Captain Frederick van Wyk, without naming Enslin, has confirmed to Daily Maverick that a fraud case was registered with police in Langebaan and was under investigation.

Read in Daily Maverick: Cape investors left impoverished in Ponzi scheme investment scam

Northern Cape Hawks spokesperson Captain Tebogo Thebe said Enslin was also on their radar. “Our commercial crime unit is busy with an inquiry on the man; it’s not yet a docket at this stage,” Thebe said. “We are hopeful the inquiry will produce prima facie evidence which will lead to us converting it into a docket.”

A legal practitioner with knowledge of the case, who declined to be named for professional reasons, said the case showed how easily NGOs and public associations could be misled into issuing membership certificates. This, the practitioner said, was particularly dangerous as it “placed the general public at risk of losing their life savings”.

From ‘Kakaboy’ plumber to lawyer

An online company search showed that the company Enslin and Olivier, of which Enslin was an active director, was founded in February 2021.

The company’s address was in Langebaan, while the website also has contacts listed for Northern Cape, the UK and Kuwait.

A UK website lists “Dr Jacobus Frederik Enslin” as linked to the company Enslin Olivier International Business Lawyers LLP, which was apparently registered in that country in September 2021.

Other searches showed Enslin was previously the contact person and manager at a South African company named Kakaboy Plumbing and Electrical that offered nationwide services and was established in 2005.

Thomas pointed out that one of Enslin’s “law firms” was named “KKB Law Group”, which could be an abbreviation of Kakaboy. DM168

DIFFICULT TO PIN DOWN

Daily Maverick made repeated attempts to contact Fred Enslin so he could respond to claims made against him.

  • A message was left with a man who answered the phone at a security company linked to Enslin and who said he would pass the message on once Enslin wrapped up meetings. Enslin did not return the call.
  • Calls to the contact number for Enslin and Olivier’s Northern Cape office just got an automated voice message saying the subscriber was not available.
  • Calls to a contact number on Enslin’s resume went to voicemail. A voice message was not replied to, nor was an SMS nor a WhatsApp (moments after the WhatsApp was sent, the profile image of the recipient, a picture of a lion, disappeared). A second WhatsApp did not seem to go through.
  • Calls to the landline for Enslin and Olivier’s Langebaan office got a voice message saying the subscriber was not available.
  • A call to a cellphone number for Kakaboy Plumbing and Electrical, for which Enslin was listed as a contact, did not go through.
  • An email to Enslin and Olivier’s Langebaan office was not replied to.
  • An email to another address listed for Enslin and Olivier was not replied to.
  • An email to other offices bounced back with a message saying the account’s owner had suspended the account.
  • An online submission form on Enslin and Olivier’s website did not seem to work.
  • An email to an address on Enslin’s resume was not replied to.
  • An email to an address contained in court papers, apparently for Enslin, bounced back with a message saying the domain could not be found. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R25.

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Long arm of the law reaches for Langebaan ‘lawyer’ who allegedly duped clients

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