The Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Annah Mokgethi has instructed new lawyers and submitted a supplemented report for a final attempt at solving the puzzle of how she failed to account for the late Abdul Joseph’s estate.
The estate is currently the subject of an intense legal battle between the minister and Abdul’s granddaughter, Dawn Masenya. A court order had given the minister, as the multimillion pula estate’s former administrator or executrix, 30 working days to answer to what could have happened but the date elapsed and she was given an extension.
On 23 September, the High Court again approved Mokgethi’s request to submit a final and updated report within 14 working days.
In a letter dated 8 October 2021 addressed to the Office of the Registrar of the High Court, Mokgethi’s new lawyers, Rahim Khan & Company Attorneys, state that “our clients through her reports dated 21 September and September 2021 complied with the order of the Court of Appeal dated 6th August 2021.”
But in a letter dated 23 September, acting Senior Assistant, Master Patient Thuto, had rejected Mokgethi’s first report. “From my initial perusal of the report, it appears that there is substantial information still outstanding,” Thuto wrote. “I refer the former Executor to the order of the High Court which was confirmed on appeal.”
Mokgethi’s new lawyers are arguing that she had also complied with the court order in her first report which the Master of the High Court had rejected. In her letter to Mokgethi, Thuto had shared with her lawyers a number of contentious issues that she should have included in her report in accordance with the court order.
“Through her first report, client submitted a copy of Botswana Building Society bank statements from October 2012 to October 2017 and a copy of Botswana Building Society bank statements from 1st October 2017 to 4th August 2021,” Mokgethi’s lawyers say.
They point to the supplementary report that comprises Annual Financial Statements from 2013 to 2021, fee notes from Motlhagodi & Company evincing total legal fees, administration costs incurred in running the estate, statements of request for funds from an account held by Botswana Building Society, statements of request of funds from Shareen Pandor and all the disbursements made to her and fee notes from other attorneys.
Regarding tax invoices for all transactions from Stanbic Bank, the lawyers point out: “Only the dividends on the BBS paid-up shares and the dividends of the shares on the stock exchange were taxable income. The dividends of the shares on Botswana stock market were paid to BURS at source and were paid out net of withholding tax. The payment of withholding tax to BURS on the BBS shares prior to the demutualisation of BBS, are reflected on the BBS statements.”
Further, the lawyers argue, it must be noted that the deceased was not tax registered at the time of his death.
“Client has submitted in her first report a letter from FNB to the effect that all accounts operated under the deceased name are closed and the last one being closed on 4th June 2008 and the first report entails transactions made through the Stanbic Bank Account,” they say.
“The Black thread account documents in the first report evinces the statement of accounts for all the incorporeal properties of the estate, various transactions made and the current value of such shares. The first report indicates that all the transactions made in the Black thread account from 2013 to date. Page 25 of the first report is the Botswana Stock Exchange Statement reflecting the current value of the shares.
The lawyers say their client had provided a full inventory and supporting documents for every immovable property. “It must however be noted that there exist no properties in Jwaneng registered in the deceased’s name as per letter from Registrar of Deeds for a property search,” Mokgethi’s lawyers assert.
Regarding details of all encumbrances over immovable properties as per the court order, Mokgethi’s lawyers argue: “There are no encumbrances over the immovable property.”
Regarding details of rental income as per court order, Mokgethi’s lawyers distanced their client from it. “All the lease agreements and rental incomes accrued from the farm in Mosi is fully managed and facilitated by Sharon Pandor and not client,” they argue. “No lease agreement was entered into by our client with respect to Lot 608, Lobatse.”
Regarding the full proven count of all livestock under the deceased’s brand, Mokgethi’s lawyers stated that she had provided in her first report an affidavit deposed by Deon Joseph, a caretaker of livestock and an heir to the estate.
With regard to the full inventory of all agricultural equipment, the lawyers note: “Client has provided a full inventory on her supplementary report including all the agricultural property present and their current valuations. Further, there has been no acquisitions or disposals of the agricultural equipment.”
The lawyers say there are no insurance policies covering the estate. Regarding details of any interim payments to heirs under the impugned will, the lawyers say Mokgethi has submitted through her second report all the disbursements, including to one referring to Shareen Pandor. “Client has requested vouchers from ABSA to corroborate some of the disbursements made and shall submit them upon receipt,” the lawyers say. They argue that Mokgethi has also provided all the financials, including all the accounts held by the estate, interest accrued and the current balances in her initial report.
Concerning a breakdown of the investment in the agricultural project at the Metlobo field, the lawyers wrote: “The said project cost an amount of P501 456.35 which was managed by Shareen Pandor and Client has submitted Ms Pandor’s report demonstrating the breakdown of all costs relating to this investment. Mrs Pandor has also submitted another report with respect to the P500,000.00 managed by her relating to the farming investment made in December 2017.”