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Special Investigating Unit to Investigate Masters’ Offices

February 5, 2020

The Presidency

Masters’ Offices have been referred to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for investigation.

Proclamation 7 was published in Government Gazette 42992.

The SIU has been instructed to investigate, inter alia, allegations of maladministration, improper and unlawful conduct, unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property and intentional or negligent loss of public money pertaining to Masters’ Offices.

The scope of the investigation focuses on the period between 1 January 2014 and the date of publication.

Issues under the microscope include the administration of the estates of deceased persons; the winding up of estates of insolvent persons; the protection and administration of the funds of minors, contractually incapacitated and undetermined and absent heirs, which have been paid into the Guardian’s Fund; supervision of the administration of companies and close corporations in liquidation; the safeguarding of all documentary material in respect of estates, insolvencies and liquidations; the processing of enquiries by executors, attorneys, beneficiaries and other interested parties; and the appointment of executors, trustees, curators and liquidators.

In a statement, the justice and constitutional development department confirmed that the Masters’ Offices were shut down today to allow the SIU to “gather, collate and retrieve information relevant to the investigation without any hindrance”.

The department added that it wants a “Masters’ Office that will conduct its affairs with integrity in line with Batho Pele Principles and not squander resources meant for the poor and vulnerable in society”.

Meanwhile, in Proclamation 8 published in Gazette 42994, the presidency amended state capture inquiry regulations.

The Regulations of the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector Including Organs of State were published in February 2018.

They govern how the Commission is to work and facilitate the gathering of evidence including the power to search and seize and subpoena witnesses.

The regulations also provide the legal framework for the chairperson to set up the Commission and appoint a secretary, evidence leaders and other staff members.

The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference were published in January 2018.

Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo was appointed as the Inquiry’s chairperson.

Regulation 3A is substituted by new regulations in the English text focused on persons designated by the chairperson.

Regulation 12 also gets a new sub-regulation 2 focused on actions before the Commission that can result in a conviction.

The amendments came into effect on the date of publication.