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Masters’ Offices shut down amid SIU raids, says Lamola

The minister appealed to the public to postpone their visits to the Offices of the Master of the High Court while investigations were under way.

FILE: Justice Minister Ronald Lamola in Parliament on 16 July 2019. Picture: @DOJCD_ZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola will shut down the Offices of the Master of the High Court around the country on Tuesday after investigations found that a Mpumalanga staff member siphoned R1.7 million.

Lamola on Monday said following allegations of corruption and maladministration, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) would conduct raids around the country. The minister appealed to the public to postpone their visits to the Offices of the Master of the High Court while investigations are under way.

“There was almost R1.7 million that was siphoned from the funds of the most vulnerable of society. We do receive complaints from time to time across the country and some of these complaints have also reached Parliament which has written to us,” Lamola said at a press briefing in Pretoria.

“There are 15 Masters Offices across the country, the main ones are nine, the rest are satellite. The SIU and relevant authorities have started to conduct the raids [and] we are announcing so that people are warned. The most vulnerable use their last cents to drive or take public transport to Masters Offices so it is important that they are forewarned,” he added.

Offices of the Master of the High Court were responsible for various duties including the administration of estates of deceased and insolvent persons, the protection of the interests of minors, and legally incapacitated persons, as well as the processing of inquiries by executors, attorneys, beneficiaries, and other interested parties.

Lamola said Monday’s investigations at the Offices of the Master of the High Court would ensure that vulnerable people were not victimised further.

“The outcome of the investigation and recommendations will help us close the gap once and for all. We do not want the most vulnerable in society to be inconvenienced by our processes, we are supposed to be their guardians. When they come to us, particularity the Offices of the Master of the High Court, they must find solace,” he said.

The Offices of the Master of the High Court were expected to reopen on Tuesday.

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