A resilient Dawn Masenya does not mind fighting the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs Anna Mokgethi for another decade if she has to.
All she wants is for Mokgethi to ‘honestly reveal’ everything she did with her grandfather, Abdul Joseph's estate. Clearly, Masenya is on a warpath.
Speaking to this publication after her protracted case with the minister was postponed last week, Masenya said she is not fighting for personal financial gain but for justice. Her family and the public. she said, need to know what Mokgethi did in her capacity as lawyer and executrix of the late Joseph’s estate.
“I will be in her life forever if she does not speak. If she gives answers tomorrow then maybe this will end but for now, I am not going to stop. I am at a point where it is impossible to stop,” Masenya said.
She has already spent a decade of her life trying to prove in court that a signed 2010 Will purported to be her grandfather’s and brought by Mokgethi, is not valid.
She has been arguing that based on information she gathered from a previous family engagements, there existed another Will which preceded the 2010 one. Joseph and Doreen had two daughters, Dawn's mother Yolinda Masenya and Shereen Pandor, and when the 2010 Will was read, it left the parents' estate only to Shereen and her children, and nothing for the late Yolinda's children, among them Dawn. Yolinda had died in 2002, and Dawn argues that their grandparents loved them so much there is no way they would have omitted them in the Will.
Masenya approached the court to challenge the validity of the Will in 2013 citing Mokgethi as the 1st defendant while her aunt and cousins are 3rd to 7th respondents in the matter. The case is still dragging before the court and the plaintiff chooses to press on until the matter is brought to finality.
Masenya is no longer frustrated by roadblocks that have been interrupting the case and delaying it further. Just last week, the case was postponed to September 12 after Khumomotse Law Practice - respondents’ attorneys - did not show up in court for the trial to continue. Masenya had been hopeful for a breakthrough as the postponed case last week featured a witness who would show that indeed another Will existed.
The court’s Roll Call last week cited Dawn Masenya as an applicant represented by Armstrongs Attorneys while A. Motlhagodi (Mokgethi) and six others are listed as respondents. Mokgethi appointed Khumomotse as her lawyer in 2018.
However, in 2019, Judge Ranier Busang struck out Mokgethi’s defence on the matter.
At the time, Busang said Mokgethi had been in persistent default and failed for years to do anything that would help advance the progress of the case.
Judge Busang added that Mokgethi had failed to file her plea within the time provided by the rules for more than five years.
“No plausible reason was advanced by 1st defendant, an attorney of considerable experience why it has taken years to file the plea. As indicated above the 1st defendant has on several occasions undertaken to file a plea within the specified time.
“She never did instead she filed exceptions, that she withdrew or did not file with court or sign as provided by the court rules. She also filed applications for security for costs twice.
“The first one she withdrew with costs to plaintiff and the second one filed in August 2017 was never set down for hearing,” Busang said in his judgement of 2019.
The Judge said the more this matter was delayed, the more the real parties’ interests are prejudiced.
“The first defendant is in fact a peripheral defendant in the matter. Persons with real interests have filed their pleadings. The court cannot allow them to suffer any further at the expense of 1st defendant.
“Previous costs were paid from the estate and if the matter proceeds in the manner desired by 1st defendant, the estate stands to suffer financial prejudice. I see no reason why the estate should be made to incur additional costs for the 1st defendant’s dereliction and neglect of duty,”
Busang said in his ruling.
Masenya has over the years been frustrated by the delays in the case but now says last week's unexpected postponement did not not really bother her this time.
“Truth is, the case, one way or the other, will have to conclude, no matter how long it takes,” Masenya said.
She admitted that fighting for a decade has been exhausting and that if it had been any other person, they would have long given up by now but not her, she will not back down, not now and not ever.
According to documents filed in court, Masenya wants the court to declare Joseph’s 2010 Will invalid because she does not believe that at the time of drafting the Will, her grandfather was in good mental capacity to appreciate the nature and effect of executing the Will.
Joseph died in 2012 and to Masenya’s shock, only her aunt Shereen and her four children are listed as heirs of Joseph’s estate.
The Will does not say anything about Joseph’s other child Yolinda who was Pandor’s sister and mother to Dawn.
Masenya argues that the family knew very well, including her aunt and cousins, that Joseph’s physical and mental health was on a decline from as early as 2008.
Joseph, she said, would at times ask about the whereabouts of his deceased wife Doreen and daughter Yolinda, an indication that the old man was confused and could not remember things.
Masenya also pleaded with the court to order Mokgethi and her aunt Pandor to produce the preceding Will or any other Wills of Joseph other than the 2010 one.
This, she says, was because her aunt had said during a family meeting that she was not happy with the preceding Will as she thought it was unfair.
The unhappy Masenya added that what fuelled her suspicions about the 2010 Will not being valid is that the old man’s signatures had in 2008 been forged by family members on 11 of Joseph’s cheques.
A family member who is one of Pandor’s children allegedly confessed to the forgery and theft at a family meeting.
When filing her intentions to defend in August 2013, Mokgethi said since Masenya was alleging the existence of a second Will, it was incumbent upon her to produce that alleged second Will.
“1st defendant (Anna Mokgethi) denies that the deceased lacked capacity to make the Will. She personally took instructions from him, personally wrote the Will in terms of his instructions and personally supervised the signing of the Will,” Mokgethi said.
Meanwhile and in recent developments, former Minister and High Court Judge Unity Dow noticed the Master of the High Court that she was in possession of a 2003 Will belonging to Joseph and his wife, Doreen.
The joint Will, it has been established, allegedly carries the last wishes of the deceased couple and it bears the signature of Mokgethi, the lawyer who prepared the document. When the case was postponed last week, Dow was supposed to take the stand in relation to the will in her possession.
It now remains to be established if the 2003 Will is valid and if its existence nullifies the 2010 Will or not. In September, Dow is expected to tell the court where she got the 2003 Will from.
Nevertheless, this publication has learnt that Dow's law firm was initially roped in the matter to represent Pandor and her children.