Probe into fake court orders in KZN

2013-10-14 10:08

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Durban - Hawks investigators are probing possible widespread faked court orders in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban following startling claims by a businessman in a court application.

The Witness has obtained affidavits by high court registry officials confirming that they did not sign documents used to liquidate Durban North-based businessman Ian Brakspear’s company in 2008.

Brakspear, and others, believe if his case succeeds it will point to a wider, organised syndicate faking court orders.

If true, the implications would be devastating for public trust in the judicial system.


Judge President of KwaZulu-Natal Chiman Patel said if Brakspear's claims are found to be true he would want a full investigation ordered into the Durban high court registry where all orders are filed and processed.

He confirmed the Hawks were already investigating and had been called in by the high court registry.

“The registry is responsible for maintaining orders. They have asked the Hawks to do a full detailed discovery to determine if such a radical move was made against the judiciary,” he said.

Brakspear’s application will be heard in the Durban high court next month.

He is fighting to win back his 85-hectare Klein Normandie farm in the exclusive Franschhoek valley in Western Cape, after his company West Dune Properties, was placed under liquidation.

He is now challenging the veracity of the 2008 order that led to his losing his farm, subsequently bought in a legitimate transaction by South African business mogul Johann Rupert for R25m.

Brakspear argues in his court application that the 2008 order was a sham and supports his claim with evidence gathered by the specialised policing unit, the Hawks, and included in his court application.

“There is no record of this order being granted at all. There could be thousands of documents that have been forged,” Brakspear charged.

'Utter rubbish'

But Leonard Katz, a director at the law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS), which was involved in the original liquidation case, described Brakspear’s allegation as “utter rubbish”.

“We have been dealing with this allegation for several years now. It is complete and utter rubbish. If he thinks ENS would create a court order it is beyond me. That order was granted in chambers [by Judge Sharmaine Balton],” said Katz.

He said they would test the evidence presented by Brakspear and said the order “could have been signed by any person” in the registrar’s office but that it was not a fraudulent order.

KwaZulu-Natal Law Society director Gavin John said it became aware of the case when a complaint was lodged against attorney Fiona Scott, who represented Brakspear when the December 2008 order was granted and is cited as an interested party in next month’s application.

“The matter was considered by a complaints committee, which dismissed as a result of a dispute of facts. The society is not aware of any other matters alleging the fraudulent issue of court orders.

“Should the outcome of any matter reflect negatively on the professional conduct of any member, the society will be directed by the court to consider same and take appropriate action against those whose conduct has been called into question,” said John.

Brakspear is being assisted by Western Cape farmer Justin Lewis.

'Syndicated corruption'

Lewis told The Witness he had been involved in a 10-year investigation into what he called “syndicated corruption led by white lawyer syndicates”.

He did not name any firms.

On 7 October he sent a letter to Gauteng-based Judge Francis Legodi, who until recently sat on the Arms Deal Commission, proposing a ministerial task team “to investigate lawyer-led syndicates” who allegedly forged high court orders.

“Syndicated fraud undermines state institutions. People will not come forward to report this abuse of power unless a task team is set up and led by a judge,” Lewis told The Witness.

Judge Patel said: “This is the first time we have had such an application like this. Let us not anticipate the outcome. For any high court this is very disturbing, but we don’t have a history of orders being falsified”.

Read more on:    durban  |  judiciary

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