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Master testifies in estates fraud trial

2023-04-03  Roland Routh

Master testifies in estates fraud trial

The trial of an estate administrator accused of stealing N$7.4 million from two estates resumed last week before Windhoek High Court Judge Herman January with Master of the High Court Elsie Beukes taking the stand.

Mervin Kozonguizi along with his close corporation, Kozonguizi and Associates CC, are being tried on two charges of corruptly using an office or position for gratification, two counts of fraud, alternatively theft, and 16 charges of money laundering. 

The State is alleging he siphoned millions of dollars from two estates. 

According to the indictment, during the period from 19 September 2014 to August 2015, Kozonguizi stole N$6.4 million from the estate of the late Gustav Kandjambi Tjiuiju that he was administering. 

It also claims that between 3 December 2015 and June 2016, Kozonguizi stole N$1 million from the estate of the late Dorothia Yolandi Beukes. 

Kozonguizi allegedly first bought a Ford Ranger bakkie for N$454 000 at the end of September 2015 - eleven days after the N$7.9 million raised from the sale of a farm owned by the late Tjiuiju had been paid into the personal bank account of Kozonguizi and a plot of land at Omeya, south of Windhoek, for which he paid N$620 000 – about two and a half weeks after the money from the farm sale had landed in his account. 

In February 2015, Kozonguizi again dipped into the money allegedly stolen from Tjiuiju’s estate to buy land at Okahandja for N$2.1 million. 

The State is also charging that on 4 December 2015, a day after he received N$1 million that was supposed to be distributed to the heirs of the late Beukes, Kozonguizi allegedly used N$420 000 of that money to buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV. 

The State further claims he used the money stolen from the two estates to make payments to other people and buy cars and properties for himself.

He has since denied guilt at the start of his trial. 

Beukes said during 2017, she started to receive complaints from beneficiaries of estates Kozonguizi was appointed to administer, that they are not receiving their benefits. She further said the beneficiaries also claimed that they find it difficult to get hold of Kozonguizi. 

According to Beukes, the CC of Kozonguizi was approved by the Master to administer the deceased’s estates as part of a panel of approved contractors. 

She further said administrators are not allowed to use any of the proceeds of an estate for their personal use and are only entitled to 3.5% of the total value of an estate as a fee. 

Also, she said, while it is not advisable, administrators sometimes use funds deposited into the account of the estate to settle bills, such as utility bills. However, she said, in such instances, they must obtain prior permission from the Office of the Master and must provide written proof of what the funds were used for.

Kozonguizi, who is out on a N$100 000 bail, is represented by Hipura Ujaha and the State by Taedago Gaweseb.

2023-04-03  Roland Routh

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