The South African music industry is about to shake - and who better to do it than the diva and queen of pop, the late Brenda Fassie?

Fassie, better known as Mabrrr, is proving even from her grave to be ibhoza (the boss) of the industry, as she claimed, and this time - through the executor of her estate, David Feldman - she is taking her former manager and producer, Sello "Chicco" Twala, EMI Music and EMI Publishing to court over claims of years' worth of unpaid royalties.

The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro), which is supposed to collect broadcast royalties for its members, will also have to prove its innocence.

Samro has been ordered to hand over all files and records relating to the estate's right to royalties, to the South African Recording Rights Association Limited (Sarral).

Fassie, albeit posthumously, is the first artist in this country to take the giants of the music industry to court and arguably, the second in the world after George Michael, who took Sony Music to court for rendering him a "pop slave".

The court action is likely to have far-reaching effects for the local music industry, in which musicians have traditionally been at the mercy of record companies.

Regarding Twala, Feldman wants him to account for monies received on behalf of the artist while he was her manager.

In papers before court, Twala allegedly received payments of royalties and other monies for Fassie.

In statements submitted by Samro and in the possession of the Saturday Star, Twala collected royalties of 75 percent for songs he co-authored on a 50/50 basis with the late singer, specifically Vul 'indlela and Qula, and gave the singer 25 percent.

It is alleged that he also collected publishing fees on the titles without right or assignment.

Twala confirmed he received the summons but said he found the executor's move "funny that they are after me and not after Peter Snyman, who managed Brenda before she died. I have nothing to hide".

According to account records from Samro, there were periods that the singer received nothing for the Radio and General payment category. For 11 years, between 1992 and 2003, Samro allegedly managed to pay the artist actual royalties on only three occasions.

Over the same 11-year period she was credited with 5c for the material use of her works in films. But she had unexplained loans from Samro totalling R458 665,23 over the period and multiple interest amounts levied on a single day.

Gwen Baloyi, marketing communications manager for Samro, confirmed they had received summons but disputed that the organisation failed to account to the late singer.

She said the allegations of credit for film use and non-payment for Radio and General were made on "a limited understanding of how Samro operations work".

"We are thus confident there was nothing untoward in Samro's dealings with Ms Fassie over her many years as a happy member of Samro," concluded Baloyi.

Feldman claims that from 1980 to date, EMI Publishing had without licence published and reproduced works of Fassie's, and had not paid the appropriate royalties for reproduced works, published works or adaptations of her works.

EMI Publishing is also accused of granting licences to third parties to reproduce the works.

EMI Music is being asked to open its books and justify the amounts they paid to the singer when she was alive. It is alleged the international music company owes Fassie more than R3-million.

Musicians have welcomed the move.

Lance Stehr, CEO of Ghetto Ruff Records and the man looking after Fassie's only son, Bongani, said the process was long overdue. He said he was sure justice would take its course and that everybody would be happy once everything was cleared up.

Clive Hardwick, business affairs director of Bula Music, said there was nothing extraordinary about the move.

"The courts are there to resolve these matters," said Hardwick.

Roby Kallenbach, MD of EMI Publishing, when approached for comment, promised the EMI group would issue a press statement but at the time of going to press no such statement had materialised.