Joost application is 'a case of life and death', says judge


Judgment is expected on Wednesday in the Pretoria High Court where Joost van der Westhuizen has brought an urgent application against the Attorneys’ Fidelity Fund.

The ailing rugby hero hopes to recover more than R385 000 allegedly embezzled by his murdered business partner and attorney, Robert Klinkenberg.

The case comes after the Roodepoort attorney died under mysterious circumstances on 3 December last year.

Robert Klinkenberg, Joost's former business partner and lawyer. Robert Klinkenberg, Joost's former business partner and lawyer.

Joost had entrusted the money to the director of Klinkenberg Incorporated to have it placed in a trust that would give Joost easier access to it for medical expenses.

Joost now has to be cared for day and night. He has suffered from incurable motor neurone disease since 2011 and although there’s nothing wrong with his mind, he’s confined to a wheelchair.

His carer has to help him every time he wants to swallow because his neck muscles are too weak to hold his head up. On Tuesday Netwerk24 tweeted from the court that the judge had found that Joost’s application was indeed a “case of life and death” and urgent, as Joost’s legal team had maintained.

The fidelity fund is disputing Joost’s allegation that Klinkenberg had stolen Joost’s money. The Attorneys’ Fidelity Fund, which serves as an insurer for attorneys, claims Joost should have claimed the money from Klinkenberg’s estate.

The firm closed down shortly after Robert Klinkenberg's death. The firm closed down shortly after Robert Klinkenberg's death.

On Tuesday the court heard that there was a shorfall of up to R200 million in the trust. Earlier this year the fund rejected Joost’’s claim because he couldn’t prove any crime. Joost’s legal team claimed the fund was liable if an attorney mismanaged a client’s money.

The court heard that Robert had committed suicide, but the police had earlier told YOU that the 46-year-old attorney had in fact been murdered.

Robert’s body was found on 3 December with a single gunshot wound in the head. It was lying about 6 m from his Porsche in the veld beside a road at Magaliesburg on the far West Rand.

“Nothing had been stolen from the victim; that’s why suicide was the logical first conclusion,” said Captain Appel Ernst, police spokesman for the Randfontein police station. But a post mortem showed it was murder.

The murder is being investigated but no suspect has been arrested.

Meanwhile the Attorneys’ Fidelity Fund has received more than 118 claims worth more than R40 million from former clients of Robert. At least R24 million has been paid out, according to Rapport newspaper.

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