The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has expressed its ‘shock and dismay on behalf of the profession’ at the allegations of corruption, fraud and maladministration at the Offices of the Master of the High Court.
This followed an extraordinary announcement by the Department of Justice on Tuesday that it was ‘shutting down the Master’s Office’ for the day, and that President Cyril Ramaphosa had ‘authorized the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to investigate allegations of maladministration, corruption and fraud in the office of the Master of the High Court countrywide’.
The department said all Master’s Offices would be closed on Tuesday to ‘enable the SIU to gather, collate and retrieve information relevant to the investigation without any hindrance’.
LSSA president Mvuzo Notyesi said: ‘We welcome the search and seizure operation for purposes of investigation by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU). Any member who may be implicated in collusion with any theft will face disciplinary action of the strongest nature.’
The organization added: ‘This theft against the most vulnerable of our society, is perpetrated against all the people of the country and compromises the institutions that provide oversight and justice of the important assets of the country.’
The department said in its statement: ‘We are fully aware that the Master’s Office plays a critical role in our communities, it is an office that works for the most vulnerable in our communities, it works for orphans, minor children, and the widowed.’
It said the investigation would ‘encompass maladministration in relation to administration of estates of deceased and insolvent persons; the protection and administration of the funds of minors, contractually incapacitated and undetermined and absent heirs, which have been paid into the Guardian’s Fund; the supervision of the administration of companies and close corporations in liquidation; the safeguarding of all documentary material in respect of estates, insolvencies and liquidations; the processing of enquiries by executors, attorneys, beneficiaries and other interested parties; and the appointment of executors, trustees, curators and liquidators’.
First published on Daily Friend