Fake advocate charged with fraud of R1.7m for stealing money from claimants

A woman who allegedly posed as an advocate and was appointed a Master of the High Court in Mpumalanga, appeared in court on Friday for fraud after it was discovered that she and her colleague had stolen more than R1.7m of claimants' money.

"Advocate" Bina Masuku, 44, appeared in the Mpumalanga Magistrate's Court on charges of fraud and corruption, among others.

She was arrested by the Hawks on Thursday.

Masuku appeared alongside lawyer Pule Elvis Kgosiemang, who is believed to be her boyfriend. Kgosiemang was arrested on Friday and faces the same charges.

The two appeared in court on the same day President Cyril Ramaphosa opened the new Mpumalanga High Court in Nelspruit.

The investigation into the two started in early 2019 when it was discovered that they had allegedly stolen more than R1.7m in two years from claimants via the Masters-trust-account, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

Masuku allegedly referred claimants to Kgosiemang, who would then submit claims to the Master of the High Court.

When claims were paid out, the two would allegedly share the money instead of transferring it to the claimants.

Mulaudzi said that, at this stage, the Hawks were aware of eight families who had allegedly been conned by the two.

Masuku is also facing charges of corruption and violation of the Immigration Act after she allegedly "bought" fraudulent papers, from a source within the Department of Home Affairs, which stated that she was a South African citizen.

The Hawks also discovered that, not only was Masuku not a South African national, but she had also submitted false documents to the Department of Justice when applying for a job.

Masuku, who is a Malawian national, was suspended in June when she tried to interfere with the Hawks investigation.

Both accused are expected back in court on Monday for a bail application.

Mulaudzi previously said the Hawks were busy with a search and seizure operation to confiscate documents at the offices of the accused.

The asset forfeiture unit in Mpumalanga is also investigating the possibility of seizing property belonging to the two, he said.

"The cases we are investigating might just be the tip of the iceberg," Mulaudzi said.

Claimants who might have more information can contact Captain Mandla Mphephethe on 071 4813295.