The La Lucia house where Charlotte Davies died in 2012. Picture: African News Agency

Durban - 17 Homeford Drive in La Lucia does not stick out but sits comfortably among the other multi-million rand homes in the area that are in walking distance to the beach.

But this is the home that has become central to a police investigation into an alleged R58 million forged will.

It is at this home that it is alleged that Adline Pillay found the will of her 92-year-old neighbour Charlotte Davies and forged it to make herself the main beneficiary of the multi-million rand estate.

While court papers say Davies estate was worth R58 million, investigators believe that when the investigation is complete and offshore accounts and foreign property is taken into account, the estate could be as much as R80 million.

Davies, according to her neighbours, was a recluse and had no children or any living relatives in South Africa. Her husband, a diamond dealer in Johannesburg, died years ago.

Her only regular human interaction was with her gardener, Sabelo Mdlovu, who along with police broke into her home on September 15, 2012, and discovered her body.

It was Mdlovu who asked Pillay, Davies immediate next door neighbour at the time, to help him with the funeral arrangements.

In the will that was allegedly forged by Pillay, Mdlovu was bequeathed R600 000 by Davies.

Feeling that he may have been swindled, Mdlovu laid a charge with police in 2014 that culminated in the arrest of Pillay and two attorneys from the law firms Rodney Reddy and P  Ramjathan appearing in the Durban Commercial Crime Court last Thursday on charges that include fraud, forgery, theft and money laundering.

The Assets Forfeiture Unit attached a R5.8 million house in La Lucia that was allegedly bought by Pillay using money from Davies estate and R2.3m in a Standard Bank account.

This is the R5.8m La Lucia property belonging to Adline Pillay which has been attached by the Asset Forfeiture Unit.  Picture: African News Agency

Residents of Homeford Drive said they were shocked to hear of the alleged forged will.

Sunitha Bridgenun, who lived across the road, said she knew Davies since 2001.

"I was friendly with her. Sadly, I was on holiday when she had died. She was a sweet, lovely, intelligent lady. We struck up friendly conversations when I saw her tending to the garden outside. I invited her for lunch on several occasions. It is surprising someone could have swindled her." Bridgenun said.

Another neighbour said Davies was a total recluse, with no friends, and he had seen her on two or three occasions in more than 20 years. Residents believed she only trusted her gardener.

One of the residents said they were shocked that Pillay had suddenly moved out of the area. They only noticed that Pillay had left was when there was a burglary at the house. 

Neighbours found tenants living on the property of Pillay. 

Some residents had seen for sale boards go up outside the house and then taken down after a day.

According to lawyer, Ferdinand Zondagh, Davies Homeford Drive house and the adjacent property was sold by Pillay to a trust in January last year for a combined amount of R6m.

The house currently operates as a guest house called Svarga.

Zondagh initially helped Mdlovu open a case with the police but now acts on behalf of Davies only known surviving relatives, Landgraf and Barbara Pane, her niece and nephew who live in Germany.

Daily News