Masters' offices shut as SIU conducts countrywide raids

2020-02-03 20:32
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. (Jan Gerber, News24)

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Offices of the Master of the High Court across the country was temporarily closed after the Specialised Investigating Unit (SIU) began search and seizure operations on Monday afternoon.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said the raids on 15 offices came about after President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised an investigation into allegations of countrywide maladministration, corruption and fraud.

"This investigation was necessitated by several allegations of maladministration and corruption, and the Mpumalanga case where it is alleged an official amassed R1.7m through fraudulent activities further highlighted the need for an investigation of this nature," Lamola said.

READ | Assistant Master of the High Court arrested for requesting R15K bribe from estate claimants

The masters' office deals with deceased estates, liquidations, registration of trusts, tutors and curators as well as the administration of the Guardian's Fund that looks after minors and the mentally challenged.

Lamola said the investigation would encompass maladministration in relation to the services provided by the masters' office to the public.

He added all offices would also be shut on Tuesday to enable the SIU to gather, collate and retrieve information relevant to the investigation without any hindrance.

"We are fully aware the masters' 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," Lamola said.

"We do, however, request members of the public to postpone their intention to visit the office just for a day. Matters which are urgent and pressing can be escalated to the head office via the local magistrate's office for the necessary attention."

Lamola added he wanted a masters' office that would conduct its affairs with integrity, in line with the Batho Pele principles and not squander resources meant for the poor and vulnerable in society.

Read more on:    siu  |  ronald lamola  |  crime

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