Bina Masuku (L) and her co-accused
A 47-year-old Malawian woman identified as Bina Masuku has been in jail for over two years in South Africa after she was arrested on allegations that, together with her 37-year-old boyfriend, she stole about R1.9 million (K123 million) from people seeking help with deceased estates while she was working as a deputy master at Department of Justice.
Masuku is also accused of presenting false information in 1994 to obtain South African citizenship hence was denied bail on grounds that she is an illegal migrant and could flee to Malawi.
Court documents and South African media reports indicate that Masuku was arrested in November, 2019 and has been in jail since that time.
Masuku worked for the Department of Justice in South Africa for 15 years after obtaining law qualifications.
The master’s branch in the department of justice among others assists with the administration of deceased estates, liquidations and registration of trusts.
Reports indicate that when some of the victims went to her office at the Masters Office in Mpumalanga., Masuku introduced them to her boyfriend Pule Elvis Kgosiemang who was working as a clerk in a law firm but posed as a lawyer.
Masuku allegedly told the victims that Kgosiemang would carry out the responsibilities of an executor and help them register the estate. The misrepresentation enabled Kgosiemang to steal money from the victims.
“[Masuku] referred estates to her co-accused for him to administer them. Heirs did not receive all proceeds of their estates. Her co-accused utilized some of the proceeds for his own benefit, transferred estate funds to his personal bank account and registered transfer of ownership of deceased estate properties to his own name,” a prosecutor told the High Court during bail hearing las year.
“The loss occasioned by the fraud perpetrated on the beneficiaries amounted in all to approximately R1 900 000.00,” says a court document from the bail hearing.
Prosecutors suspect that the money stolen from the deceased estates was shared between the two.
Masuku is facing charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and contravention of the Immigration Act.
Her family in Malawi has since expressed concern over the welfare of their relative and they want authorities to push for her case to be heard in Malawi.
Elisa Masuku, sister to Bina Masuku, told the local media that they have not been able to visit their relative since she was arrested in 2019.
Said Elisa: ” All we heard was that she stole money at her workplace. We have no means to follow up these issues, all we want is government to help to plead with their counterparts in South Africa to allow Bina to return home and answer her charges here. At least we can afford to visit her here in prison.”
However, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson John Kabaghe said it is not possible for Masuku’s case to be heard in Malawi.
“Where we can come in as government is only after the judgement is entered. Good for her if it may turn out to be an acquittal, but if it is a conviction, we can only negotiate for her with the South African authorities to serve her prison sentence in Malawi,” he said.
According to Masuku’s family, Bina was born in in Johannesburg while their father, Orton William Masuku, was working for a hotel in the city.
Bina Masuku was sent to Malawi and it is where she did her studies up to secondary school. She later returned to South Africa and obtained a law degree from University of the Witwatersrand in 2004 which enabled her to secure the job at the Department of Justice.
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