Drama at Master of the High Court
MBABANE – Police officers had to be called to the Master of the High Court offices yesterday after members of a Sihlongonyane family demanded access to the file of their late father’s estate.
Master of the High Court, Phumzile Thomo-Masilela, called the police as she felt they were threatening and harassing her.
The Sihlongonyanes want to access the file they suspect has been tampered with by one of their relatives who is a public officer. His name has been withheld because the accusations against him are yet to be authenticated.
Masilela allegedly refused with the file even after her superior, Supreme Court Registrar Lorraine Hlophe had written a letter asking that the family be assisted to access it.
"I have today met with Mr. Sihlongonyane Vincent. He informs me that he would like to peruse his family’s estate file and to make copies of certain documents should the need arise so as to enable him to instruct an attorney. Kindly get someone to assist him as a matter of urgency. I value your cooperation," reads the letter that is reportedly from and signed by Hlophe.
According to Vincent, Thomo-Masilela refused to entertain the letter and said she wanted to take it to Chief Justice Michael Ramodibedi to verify its authenticity.
In an interview, he said they had decided to approach Hlophe after they felt the Master was uncooperative and showed no signs of being prepared to assist them.
"I first came to the Master’s office on Friday to see the file, but I could not get it. She said I should come with my lawyer and I did that, but she again refused with the file. She told the lawyer to come back on another day.
"That was when we decided to approach Hlophe today and she gave us the letter to take to the Master. But again she (Master) refused. She then called the police saying we’re harassing and threatening her," Vincent alleged.
The allegations of the refusal are yet to be verified as a comment from the Master could not immediately be obtained yesterday.
When a team from the Times arrived at the Master’s offices, were at least eight police officers there standing at the door to prevent the Sihlongonyanes from gaining access.
Vincent was accompanied by his brother Mbongiseni, together with siste
rs Thuli and Ncane.
"We suspect that one of our relatives has been given access to the estate. On the other hand, no other family member accesses the estate. He is helping himself to the estate. Some children in the family can’t even go to school because there is no money as the estate isn’t accessible," Thuli alleged.
According to the family members, the estate file has been lying at the Master’s office since 2007 when their father died.
Up until now, no executor of the estate has been appointed and the family says it does not understand why this is happening.
The Sihlongonyanes said they would be back at the Master’s offices today as per Thomo-Masilela’s alleged instruction.
Efforts to get comment from the Master proved futile as she was quickly escorted out of her office building by police officers.
Police Deputy PRO, Assistant Superintendent Stephen Dlamini said police were called there by the Master to provide her with security.
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