Nearly six years after his death, the multi-million-rand life insurance policy of music icon Taliep Petersen – of which his 13-year-old daughter Zaynab is the sole beneficiary – is set to come under scrutiny following an urgent Western Cape High Court application.
On one side is Zaynab’s brother Sulaiman Effendi, 24, who has asked the court to appoint a city advocate as a curator to investigate the circumstances of the payment of the proceeds of the policy to the Blue Bird Trust.
He says his mother, Najwa Petersen, who is serving an effective 28-year jail term after being convicted of her husband Taliep’s murder, asked him to lodge the court application to secure his sister’s best interests.
On the other side is Taliep’s brother Igsaan Petersen, founder of the trust and a trustee, who says he is not against an investigation, because he has nothing to hide. But he has instructed an attorney to file papers, because he disputes the contents of Effendi’s affidavit, and wants to set the record straight.
The life insurance policy was worth R5.3 million, according to Effendi’s papers, which are in the possession of Weekend Argus.
In the affidavit, Effendi confirms he is acting on the request of his mother. Due to her incarceration, he says, she was unable to take the issue to court herself.
Effendi said Zaynab had been in his care since June 2007, when his mother was first arrested.
“No one has ever sought to question my ability and my care of Zaynab,” he added.
Turning to the background to the application, Effendi said that through the assistance of an official in the office of the inspecting judge of prisons, and independent insurance broker Rafiek Saville, his mother established that Liberty Life had paid the R5.3m to the Blue Bird Trust.
She asked him to find out about the circumstances surrounding the payment, prompting him to appoint attorney Ighsaan Sadien to look into the matter.
Sadien searched the records at the office of the master of the High Court, and obtained a deed of trust.
Effendi said Sadien saw the trust was founded by Igsaan Petersen, who was also a trustee, together with accountant Suleiman September and a company called Iprotect Trustees.
The trustees have all been cited as respondents, as well as the master of the High Court.
According to the deed of trust, the beneficiaries were Zaynab, her descendants, any trust established for her and, in the event that any of those beneficiaries ceased to exist, or their benefits were repudiated, her siblings.
Should Taliep’s brother cease to be a trustee, Nasief Groenmeyer – the husband of Taliep’s sister Ma’atoema – would be appointed as a trustee instead.
Effendi, however, expressed concern at certain clauses in the deed of trust. He added that Sadien also discovered that a property in Lansdowne had been transferred into the name of the trust.
The property had been bought for R1.125m with the proceeds of a Nedbank loan, and is occupied by one of Taliep’s relatives.
Effendi said Sadien wrote to a firm of attorneys which act as an agent for the trustees to request copies of the trust’s financial statements.
The firm replied that the trustees were in the process of attending to the financial statements.
Sadien also asked for copies of bank statements from the time of the inception of the trust, while he waited for the financial statements.
But the firm replied that the trustees were under no obligation to provide such statements. The letter stated that if “the beneficiary” had any financial needs, Effendi was welcome to approach the trustees.
Effendi said that, to date, he had still not received the financial statements, and felt compelled to lodgethe court proceedings to secure Zaynab’s best interests.
According to Effendi, the appointment of a curator would allow an independent investigation into the circumstances of Zaynab’s benefiting from the death of her father.
When contacted by Weekend Argus, Igsaan Petersen described the application as “a waste of time”.
He said he had established the trust for Zaynab’s sake, and had no sinister intentions. “This is not about money. It’s about Zaynab’s best interests.”
He said that Effendi could simply have waited until the financial statements were ready, instead of taking the issue to court.
“They’re just jumping the gun,” he said, adding that while his brother had six children who needed to be provided for, the trust was established solely for Zaynab’s sake because she was the sole beneficiary of the life insurance policy.