Africa-Press – Eswatini. Former Assistant Master of Khanyisile Masilela has been accused of demanding payment to speed up the distribution of the late businessman, Sipho Thulani ‘Tsetla’ Bhembe’s estate.

Masilela, according to Bhembe’s widow, allegedly wanted to be paid various amounts, which added up to almost E80 000 to quicken the process of distributing Bhembe’s estate. The former assistant master of the High Court is purported to have made the demands for payment on different occasions. It was reported that Masilela received only E30 000 from the monies she allegedly wanted to be paid, some of which were paid in cash at the Corporate Place in Mbabane.

This was revealed to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry yesterday, when Bhembe’s widow, Thabsile, appeared before the commission.

Thabsile was accompanied by Lawyer Zweli Jele of Robinson Bertram. Bhembe died in December 2021 and he owned a homestead at Motshane, a plot in Ngwenya with three-bedroom houses, over 20 kombis, around seven cars and livestock.


He was married to Thabsile in community of property and no children were born of the marriage. However, Bhembe had six children born outside the marriage. According to Thabsile, when her husband died, she reported at the Master’s Office and she was given a file for the estate. Thabsile narrated that even before an executor was appointed, she received information that the mothers of Bhembe’s children had approached the Master’s Office, to request the payment of school fees. She alleged that Masilela told her that the school fees had been paid for, which did not sit well with her, because it had been done without her knowledge.

Thabsile stated that a family meeting was then held whereby they were told that an executor had to be appointed. “I was told that I did not qualify to be the executor and I was told that I had some doubts about the children. I was told that a neutral person was needed for the estate,” Thabsile alleged.

These are allegations, whose veracity is still to be tested. She explained that after the executor’s appointment, she got a lawyer to object and she was later appointed as a co-executor. She told the commission that she held several meetings with the other executor, discussing issues around the transport business, where they would approach the Master’s Office to request some monies to maintain the kombis.

Adding, Thabsile alleged that Masilela demanded E20 000 for her personal use. She testified to the commission that the money was to be disguised as the kombis fees, needed for their maintenance. “I was told that the money would be part of the kombis’ expenses. The day I gave her the money, I was told to come alone. “I withdrew the money, and we met at the Corporate Place. I gave her an envelope with the E20 000,” she alleged.


Thabsile went on to report that, on the same day, she received a call from Masilela, who allegedly told her that they would have quarrelled if she did not give her the money. According to Thabsile, as executors, they also made another request to the Master’s Office for vehicle maintenance and E30 000 was required. She alleged that the initial E30 000 was increased to E60 000 as per Masilela’s directive. Thabsile testified to the commission that the other E30 000 was shared among three people, herself, the other co-executor and Masilela, and they received E10 000 each.

She said all these events worried her that the estate distribution would continue being delayed. “I was worried about the estate. I made attempts to engage the Master’s Office, which resulted in the first liquidation of the estate. “When the second distribution request was made, we found out that Masilela was not handling the file but had handed it over to someone else,” she alleged. Furthermore, Thabsile mentioned that in their attempts for a second distribution, she allegedly received a call from Masilela, who demanded a sum of E50 000.

She told the commission that Masilela told her not to tell anyone about the E50 000, not even the other co-executor. Thabsile alleged that Masilela further requested a private meeting to discuss the issue. “She said we could have a meeting at The Gables or Woodlands in Mbabane. The meeting was eventually held at the Tandoori Restaurant at the Corporate Place, Mbabane. “In that meeting, she then explained how she would approve the estate account, so that she could get the E50 000,” Thabsile alleged.

For Thabsile, that decision raised fears about the estate as it was a lot of money. She said upon her further investigations, she also uncovered that Masilela had been transferred to the High Court. She reported to the commission that Masilela did not get the E50 000, but she approached Lawyer Zweli Jele for assistance. She mentioned that this was after receiving objections allegedly from the mothers of Bhembe’s children about the second estate distribution.

“The Master’s Office did not like the meetings called by Jele. They had a challenge with Jele representing me and questioned who was going to make the payments,” she alleged. Thabsile alleged that Jele verified the monies that went to Masilela and others. She said this was done allegedly by getting bank statements to determine how much money was going out of the account. She also revealed that Jele educated her about the estate battles, in cases where a lot of money was involved. On another note, Thabsile told the commission that the estate’s second distribution was allegedly stopped since May last year.


Adding to Thabsile’s testimony, Jele said they would present documentation of all the events that occurred in the estate. Jele also clarified that he was not expecting any payments from the estate. He explained to the commission that he took the matter because of his pastor, who requested his assistance. He said he would not be charging any fees for his service. Jele told the commission that a minimum of four meetings were set to understand the objections filed on the second distribution, but that matter had remained unresolved, with some objections withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Mbabane Assistant Master Vuyisile Mdluli confirmed that the first liquidation was made, which was approved in 2022. Mdluli said the second distribution had not been approved as there were some objections that needed to be addressed. She said some of the objections touched on the surviving spouse’s shares, maintenance and some monies allegedly uncounted for.

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