Family feud over Stellenbosch wine estate turns ugly after murder
Cape Town – Police may regard the grieving
widow of murdered Stellenbosch
farmer Stephan Smit as a person of
interest in their investigation.
This is one of the claims made in an affidavit filed in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.
Smit, 62, was murdered at his Stellenbosch wine estate home on June 2 last year.
His wife Zurenah, 54, was apparently making tea in the kitchen when he was shot in the head and chest by four unknown home invaders who entered their Louiesenhof Wine Estate home through an unlocked door.
Their 71-year-old dinner guest was apparently the sole witness of the shooting.
The latest affidavit was filed by Smit’s youngest daughter, Martine, in preparation for a court battle with Zurenah, who wants the High Court to declare a copy of the January 12, 2019 will she found in her husband’s Bible as his last will.
If successful, Zurenah will become executor of Smit’s estate and receive R7 million in cash and assets, Louiesenhof Wine Estate and a third of his remaining estate.
In her opinion, the 2019 will invalidates the December 7, 2018 will Saps detectives found in Smit’s safe, which Martine argues is her father’s last will.
Martine backs up her claim in her affidavit with evidence from a Saps Forensic Science Laboratory document examiner who views her father’s
signature, and hence the will, as a forgery.
“Due to the circumstances of my father’s death and based on the information made available to the Saps, the applicant is a person of interest in my father’s death,” Martine alleges in her affidavit.
“I do not know whether the investigation by Saps will lead to any person (including the applicant) being charged with my father’s murder. If that is the case, it could support the conclusion that the applicant (Zurenah) forged the will.
“I also point out that it is for those reasons that my father’s life insurers have not paid any amounts to the applicant as yet,” she adds referring to a R3.5m Discovery Life payout.
The investigation is at a “sensitive stage”, she adds, and is “approaching finalisation”.
“My father would never have bequeathed assets (like Louiesenhof) which he knew did not belong to him, but rather to certain trusts.”
He would have also known “that it was not possibie to bequeath R7m to the applicant as he simply did not have that much cash or assets in his estate”.
Backing up Martine’s allegations are affidavits from Smit’s financial advisers, who say they have never seen the 2019 will and regard it with suspicion, or as fraudulent.
The 2019 will is not the only alleged forged document mentioned in Martine’s affidavit.
Also under the Saps spotlight is an alleged February 1, 2018 donation document which effectively hands over the business reins of Smit’s multi-million estate - his investment portfolio alone exceeds R60m - to Zurenah.
Martine further alleges that the Saps had also determined that the person who signed the document in front of a commissioner of oaths at the Saps Cloetesvilie Community Service Centre “was not my father”.