Priest’s home to be searched after allegedly stealing from late lover’s home
A Catholic priest sworn to celibacy but who had a love affair with a married woman has been interdicted and restrained by the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court from disposing and concealing assets belonging to his late lover’s estate.
The priest, Father Alexius Lindani Madela, claimed the deceased, Neliswe Mokoena, his life partner, had written a letter nominating him as her sole beneficiary.
However, magistrate Mondli Nhlangulela said the letter could not hold any legal weight in a court of law unless declared by the high court as Nelisiwe’s last will and testament.
Madela and the woman’s estranged husband, Sello Mokoena, former KZN
Athletics president, have been in a court battle over Neliswe’s estate since she died in 2019.
She left her matrimonial home in 2008 and moved into a flat at Plantations Estate in Hillcrest, west of Durban, where Madela was a frequent visitor.
Shortly after Neliswe’s death, Mokoena discovered that a number of items had been taken from the residence and approached the court to compel Madela to hand over the assets he had allegedly removed from the home.
The list included a VW Polo Classic, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, a set of keys, bank and medical aid cards, a Canon camcorder, a microwave, jewellery and insurance and policy documents.
Mokoena’s legal team lodged an urgent application in August 2019 for a search warrant.
The application sought to have items belonging to the late estate removed from any address suspected of keeping or concealing them with the assistance of the police.
Nhlangulela said Mokoena was the executor of his wife’s estate and Madela had fashioned himself as her life partner and as such felt entitled to protect the assets because of their intimate relationship prior to her death.
“However, it is common cause the applicant and the deceased were married before her demise. It is also common cause that the applicant is the executor of the deceased’s estate by virtue of the fact he is the surviving spouse.
“It is in this capacity that the applicant institutes these proceedings before the court to seize all the assets or items in the hands of third parties to be under his control,” he said.
He said Mokoena’s application had to show he had a clear right, prove the estate would suffer irreparable harm should the interdict not be granted, and he needed to show the court he had no alternative remedy except the interdict.
Nhlangulela said he was satisfied Mokoena had a clear right and the estate would suffer irreparable harm should the rule nisi, a court order that comes into force unless a particular condition is met and binding, not be confirmed.
Phiwa Duma, Madela’s attorney, confirmed the court had granted a warrant to search the premises.
Duma said: “We respect the court’s ruling on the matter which has been dragging on for quite some time and we are content the matter will now be put to rest after the execution of the order and both parties will be able to move on with their normal lives.”
Siyabonga Kunene, Mokoena’s lawyer, said the court ruling was a victory for Mokoena and other heirs of Neliswe’s estate. Kunene said his client would proceed to finalise the wind up process.
“I believe he can now focus on other things and start the search for his late wife’s assets. There are other issues which he is yet to pursue with the Roman Catholic Church and we are on standby to act for him should he hit a brick wall,” said Kunene.
Mokoena said the court’s ruling would serve as a deterrent for priests who abandon their celibacy pledge before God and consider themselves above the law.