A WALVIS Bay woman has won a bid against the Master of the High Court to reimbursement the estate of her late mother with N$1.2 million that was lost through negligence and without due care, resulting in the estate suffering the loss.
The Master of the High Court administers deceased estates in the absence of a will.
Master of the High Court appointed an executor, Mervin Kozonguizi, against the will of the beneficiaries of the estate, who claim that they not recommend, approve, nor had knowledge of his existence before the appointment.
In the judgement delivered yesterday by High Court Judge Kobus Miller, Kozonguizi and the Master of the High Court is ordered to pay the plaintiffs the sum of N$1,275,357.36.
‘’Interest on the aforesaid amount is payable at the rate of 20 percent per annum calculated from the date of this judgement to the date of final payment. Costs of suit, which will include the costs of two instructed and one instructing counsel,’’ the judge said.
Miller found that the Master of the High Court officials acted or rather omitted to act, wrongfully and negligently and without due care, consequently the estate suffered a loss.
He said that section 100 provides that in these circumstances, the State should be liable and not both the Master and the State.
‘’From the evidence adduced, it is apparent the first defendant and the officials at no stage required the third defendant to account for any of the assets as he was tasked to liquidate and distribute, prior to reducing the amount of security. It is clear that the first defendant or the officials had not the slightest idea what assets were collected, which assets were distributed in the interim and which remained in the estate to be distributed later,’’ he said.
The judge further noted that despite not having any idea, Kozonguizi was not called upon to account for any of the assets.
‘’Had that been done, the fact that certain assets were misappropriated would in all probability have come to light. The fact that nothing was done was not only a flagrant disregard for the provisions of section 24, it is additionally grossly negligent,’’ the judge chastised the respondents.
In the application, Maruzaan Moller, and her brother, had claimed that her mother’s estate had suffered damages of about N$1,874,357.36, plus interest due to the conduct of the officials of the Master of the High Court.
According to court documents, on 18 November 2015, the Master allegedly appointed Kozonguizi, who is the third defendant, as executor of the estate, after Moller, the daughter, had already turned 21.
In a letter through her lawyers, Nakamhela Attorneys, the applicant had recommended that, on behalf of the heirs of the estate, Raymond Reginald Beukes, the ex-husband of her mother and father and guardian of the then still minor heirs to the estate of her late mother, Yolandi Dorothia Beukes, be appointed as the executor of the estate.
However, due to the parents having already legally been divorced, the High Court did not issue or appoint him as executor. Further, the court had allegedly requested him to provide security for his appointment as executor, to which Nakamhela Attorneys had informed the Master that there were no funds available to provide the security to the amount of N$2,055,000 that the Master wanted.
According to court documents, Nakamhela Attorneys then informed the Master of the High Court in a letter dated 22 April 2015, that the parents had before the mother’s death reconciled, and were cohabiting again as common law husband and wife, and that the father was caring for the mother during her last days.
Nakamhela Attorneys had requested the Master to revise the amount required as security, and advised that if it could not be revised to wait until Moller turned 21-years on 9 November 2015, at which point she could be appointed executor.
In January 2016, the lawyers informed the Master that the family had not nominated neither consented to Kozonguizi as executor.
According to court documents, from July to September 2016, the Master reduced the security provided by Kozonguizi in terms of Section 23 of the Administration of Estate Act, from N$2 million to zero.
The reduction of the security by the Master, which amounts to a cancellation of the security, was done without Kozonguizi having accounted for the full amount of the estate as was reported.
To this, the applicants claim that Master had no legal basis for reducing the security to zero before Kozonguizi had accounted for the estate.
Moller states that she had no other option to file for legal action again against the defendants
to recover the money that was “stolen” from my mother’s estate after numerous failed
attempts to communicate with the office of the Master of High Court.