Eight years later, the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Annah Mokgethi is grappling with her deeds as a wealthy man's executrix.
This was after the Court of Appeal dismissed her application to reverse a High Court decision compelling her to give proper accounting records of Joseph’s estate. The said estate is a subject of an intense court battle between Joseph’s granddaughter
According to court records, Joseph passed away on July 7, 2010, and Mokgethi was soon thereafter issued with a letter of administration. Of his wife and two daughters, only one daughter, Shereen Pandor survives him. Pandor has four children. Joseph's deceased daughter, Yolanda, left behind three children, Dawn Masenya and her two siblings.
Joseph had executed a will about two years before his demise. This was drawn up by Mokgethi, who was his attorney, and who was also named therein as the executrix of his will.
“In terms of the will, Pandor and her children inherited the whole of his considerable estate. Masenya and her siblings got nothing. Masenya was aggrieved, and when a final liquidation and distribution account was filed on May 4, 2013. She objected and, as advised by the Master of the High Court, she instituted proceedings to set aside the will on the grounds that Joseph was non compos mentis (of unsound mind or lacking mental ability to understand the nature, consequences, and effect of a situation or transaction) at the time of its execution, and that it might have been forged,” the court papers read.
The case has been ongoing for eight years now. The panel of three Court of Appeal judges who presided over the matter, President of the Court of Appeal Justice Ian Kirby and Justices Isaac Lesetedi and Singh Walia state that it is clear from the record before them that Mokgethi has fought tooth and nail to resist both the possible nullification of the will and the provision by her of a full accounting of her stewardship of the estate.
“The 2013 case has been stalled by a succession of technical objections. In one of these, the Appellant (Mokgethi) sought to disqualify Masenya, alleging inadequate authentication of her pleadings, which were attested in America, where she lives. Although initially successful, she lost on appeal before this court and the case was sent back for continuation in the High Court. There, we are told, Mokgethi, following the dismissal of her various technical objections failed to file a plea on the merits and in due course, her defence was dismissed,” the judges noted.
According to court papers, the proffered Final Liquidation and Distribution Account reported the estate as being valued at P26,199,724.03 down from P31,760,259.13 listed in the initial inventory, which remains to be distributed. The court argues that since there was an interdict of the distribution, the estate should still be intact, subject to legitimate accretion or diminution, in the hands of and under the stewardship of the executrix.
It subsequently came to light, largely through the efforts of Masenya that the initial inventory filed was materially incomplete, and that the Final Liquidation Account prepared by Mokgethi contained significant deficiencies.
“Certain estate assets, including a borehole, livestock, and share, were not reflected. Dividends were omitted, although the estate held a wide share portfolio valued at some P20 million, and rentals received after the passing of Abdul (Joseph) remained unaccounted for. A known sale of Barclays Bank shares of more than P2 million has not been disclosed, and nor have those funds been subsequently accounted for. There is no evidence that the estate has paid income tax or even rendered tax returns for any of the years during which it has been under administration. In short, there is every indication that a number of breaches of the Administration of Estates Act may have taken place,” the judges wrote.
In 2017, after Mokgethi failed to provide the latest account of the estate to the Master, Masenya took the matter to court. Masenya asked the court to compel Mokgethi to render an account of the estate under the Administration of Estates Act.
Justice Godfrey Nthomiwa ruled that Mokgethi should within 30 days “of the granting of this order furnish the Master of the Court and the Applicant a full and current accounting in respect of the assets and liabilities of Deceased Estate of late Abdul Joseph and shall provide details of all transactions relating to the estate from the date of issue of the Letters of Administration up to the date of accounting and shall provide an updated and accurate inventory of the estate".
The court also, among other things, ordered Mokgethi to: “Provide details of trades or transactions in respect of any securities or shares forming part of the estate from the date of the issuing of the letters of administration to the date of the accounting, together with copies all supporting by vouchers".
Mokgethi would the appeal whereupon the panel dismissed her appeal and compelled her to comply with Nthomiwa’s order. This means Mokgethi is now compelled to bring forth the required information in not more than 30 days.
Nthomiwa had earlier warned Mokgethi that “anyone who fails to comply with the provisions of subsection (1), (2) and (3) or any requirement or direction of the Master under subsection (4) (5) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding P100 or to be imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.”