Battle over Raj’s will

2012-03-24 15:32

The family of colourful politician Amichand Rajbansi is squaring up for a battle over his estate which is believed to be worth R60 million.

Not only are his second wife, Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi and his brothers and sisters fighting about her appointment as executrix of his estate, they are also squabbling over which of his four wills is valid.

Thakur-Rajbansi wants his final will to be validated.

That will was written in July 2010 in anger, after Rajbansi had a fall-out with his daughters over their behaviour at the family table at the prestigious Vodacom Durban July races.

Some of his four daughters had reportedly been drinking and Rajbansi, a teetotaller, was furious.

And in his revised will, the Minority Front leader left his second wife a bigger slice of the pie.

On the other side, some of his children and trustees of the Amichand Rajbansi Trust, want that will to be used as a codicil for another will written earlier that year in which they were left a greater share of his fortune.

Meanwhile, there is also a dispute raging with the Master of the High Court over the letter of executrix issued to Thakur-Rajbansi.

Last week, Durban master Varsha Sewlal wrote to Rajbansi’s widow, attempting to retract the letter of appointment. She refused, and now a red-faced Sewlal has backtracked and will meet the family and lawyers tomorrow to try and finalise the matter.

The disputes over his estate have now also spilled over into the political arena, with his opponents demanding an inquiry into why the man known as the Bengal Tiger did not disclose his ownership of seven Durban petrol stations to Parliament.

One of his wills outlines the network of garages which are owned by various companies and trusts under Rajbansi’s control. It also lists several properties he owns in the city, one of which he left to his former wife, Asha Devi Rajbansi, who will also receive a car, a monthly stipend and other benefits, including medical aid.

The James Commission, which declared Rajbansi unfit to hold public office in the early 1990s, heard damning evidence of his abuse of power in awarding service station licences to Indian South Africans displaced by the Group Areas Act.

There are now also concerns that he may have abused a policy introduced by the eThekwini Municipality after 1996 to further enrich himself illegally through a programme to compensate traders displaced under apartheid.

Thakur-Rajbansi, who now heads her husband’s party and who represents it in Parliament, is at loggerheads with Himal Tugh, Rajbansi’s lawyer and fellow trustee, over statements he allegedly made questioning her integrity in a local newspaper. She intends suing him for R500 000.

Sewlal and her staff refused to let City Press see the Rajbansi file, despite it being a public document, claiming it was being “worked on’’. She referred all queries to justice department spokesperson Tlali Tlali, who failed to respond to questions from City Press.

Thakur-Rajbansi attorney Anesh Maharaj said there was nothing wrong with his client’s appointment. “We are starting to wind up Mr Rajbansi’s estate now,’’ Maharaj said. “We have written to the Master informing them of this.”

“My client will not relinquish the Letter of Executorship which was granted to her lawfully,” he said.

Tugh refused to comment. Rajbansi’s son Vimal, acting as a spokesperson for his siblings, refused to comment.

Several attempts to contact Thakur-Rajbansi were unsuccessful.

DA eThekwini leader Tex Collins said not only had Rajbansi hidden his property and garage holdings from Parliament, but appeared to have acquired them under “conditions which can only be described as suspicious.’’

Collins said the DA would call in the Public Protector and the Municipal Public Accounts Committee to probe Rajbansi’s deals and pursue the matter in Parliament.

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