Fingo family feud
AVictoria Road man’s hopes of getting back a property that he says he fought hard to get is now on the brink of losing it, due to what he claims is a fraudulent will made by family members while he was away working in Port Elizabeth.
Funisile Katu, who is also known as Comrade Maxon, has had to adapt to life in neighbouring Salem as a result of a complicated family feud over a house he claims he earned through blood, sweat and tears under the apartheid regime. He has since found refuge in a relative’s property in Salem.
Katu was part of a family of eight growing up with his brothers in Victoria Road in Fingo Village. The big family depended on their mother's social grant to put food on the table and because of this Katu decided to move to Port Elizabeth to look for employment.
After finding a job in Port Elizabeth Katu had his house registered in his older brother’s name.
Another house in the same property is also in his other brother's name.
His troubles started when his brother, Marasela Clever Nelani, died in October 2012.
Katu alleges Nelani was mentally unstable and had left him in the care of his sister Nontobeko Nelani who stays in Hlalani.
He says Nontobeko’s daughter Vuyokazi saw an opportunity to convince Nelani to make a will identifying her brother Andile Nelani as the executor shortly before he died. The will, which is in Grocott’s Mail’s possession, was made on 2 October 2012.
Katu claims Nelani’s mental and physical state had deteriorated extremely when he was allegedly convinced to sign the will, in which Nelani identifies Andile as his son, despite being his uncle.
“My brother never had children, but in that will they say Andile is his son,” Katu said.
In the will, Nelani writes, “I appoint my son Andile Bennie Nelani as the executor of my estate granting him the power of assumption. My said executor shall not be required to furnish security to the Master of the High Court.”
The will was drafted by Grahamstown attorney Leon Keyter. In the will Keyter says: “I, Leon Keyter, hereby certify that I have satisfied myself as to the identity of the testator (Nelani) and that the will so signed is the will of the testator.”
In an interview with Grocott’s Mail last Friday Keyter disputed claims that Nelani was mentally ill or sick when he signed the will in 2012.
“He must have appeared to be normal to me because I would not have let him do the will if he appeared not to be well,” Keyter said.
“I can’t recall who came here with him because that was a long time ago.”
Keyter said Katu should go to the Master of the High Court and find out whose name the house is registered under. “He said he must prove that the house belongs to him.”
Katu must also produce evidence that his brother was mentally unstable when he signed the will, said Keyter.
“He must present the evidence and go to court and say the will is invalid,” said Keyter.
Keyter said a person can't just make an allegation.
“You have to prove and come with evidence to support your claims.”
He said the key issue was who the house is registered under.
Keyter said the use of the words “my son” in the will is not important.
I’m under the impression that in the black culture you can refer to a child that is not yours as your son,” he said.
Katu says it was extremely difficult for his family to get a house in the 1980s and his only option was to build an informal house in upper Victoria Road. Katu said he was the first person to build a shack in the area. “It was illegal to build on that land when I built my shack there, but people were later allowed to build houses in Victoria after I had built my shack,” he said.
An emotional Katu has appealed for support from Victoria Road residents who know the history of the house and how hard he worked to get it.
His brother, Madoda Nelani, to whom he left one of the two houses, is trying to help Katu prove the will is fraudulent.
When contacted for her side of the story, Vuyokazi declined to comment, saying only: “Did he (Katu) say the house was registered in my name? Then speak to Andile.”
Andile said: “He (Katu) sold his house in PE and now he wants to move back into my house,” a defiant Andile said.
Andile said the house had been left to him by his late uncle.
“I have contacted my own lawyers about this matter, so I would rather not talk about it any more,” he said.