The Herald E-Edition

Disgraced attorney accused of stealing from second road accident claimant

Devon Koen

Six months after he was charged with pocketing millions meant for a client who had lost use of his legs in a car crash, disbarred Gqeberha attorney Shaun Masimla allegedly did it again by stealing from a widow and her children.

Yesterday, details of Masimla’s alleged shady dealings came to light when he appeared briefly in the city’s magistrate’s court following his early morning arrest by the Hawks.

The charge sheet detailed how he had allegedly stolen the bulk of a Road Accident Fund (RAF) payout to a woman who had lost her husband in a car crash.

Masimla was struck from the roll of attorneys in September 2021.

An attorney for almost two decades, Masimla was interdicted from practising law in 2018 after a man, left physically impaired after a motor vehicle accident, complained to the Legal Practice Council (LPC) that he had only been paid a fraction of the R3.5m RAF settlement.

After an investigation into the complaint, Masimla was arrested in December 2017 and released on R2,000 bail.

But by May 2018, four months before he was interdicted from practising, Masimla allegedly stole from a woman who was to receive R657,661 from the RAF after her husband died in a motor vehicle accident in July 2010.

It is alleged that after the

RAF paid the money into Masimla’s trust account on January 10 2018, he paid his client a total of only R80,000 in two instalments — R30,000 in January 2018 and R50,000 in April that year.

According to the charge sheet, by May 24 2018,

Masimla had allegedly misappropriated or stolen the bulk of the money, with only R660 of it remaining.

In 2019, the woman also approached the LPC for assistance.

A claim was then lodged against the LPC Fidelity Fund, which paid out R542,669 to the woman “for the loss she and her children suffered at the hands of [Masimla]”.

He faces a charge of fraud, alternatively theft.

Senior state advocate Lise Keech told the court that Masimla now faced a schedule six offence as he had allegedly committed the same crime while on bail pending his trial before the commercial crime court.

In the initial matter,

expected back in court on January 25, it is alleged that between 2012 and 2017, Masimla paid out just R1.1m in instalments from his trust account to the bank account of the car crash victim.

During the Makhanda high court hearing into his removal from the roll of attorneys, Masimla claimed the man and his wife had loaned him the remainder of the money as he was experiencing some financial difficulties.

The couple told a vastly different story.

By the end of 2012 there was already a shortfall of more than R700,000 from the R1.13m the RAF had, by then, deposited in tranches into Masimla’s trust account.

By June 2013, his trust account reflected a negative balance despite a further R2.4m being deposited by the RAF.

In his judgment, judge Gerald Bloem said Masimla’s claim that the couple had agreed to loan him money was “farfetched and palpably implausible” because of their own personal circumstances. Masimla addressed the court directly from the dock yesterday, claiming his life would be in danger should he be detained at St Albans Prison.

He said he feared for his life. Masimla said he had not yet spoken to his attorney, Danie Gouws, and that he needed to raise a few points before the matter was heard.

“My life may be in danger if I am sent to St Albans.

“I am well-known in the area and have done a lot of criminal matters,” Masimla said.

According to Keech, when she discussed the matter with the investigating officer, the issue of Masimla’s fears were never raised.

Masimla disagreed. After a short adjournment, Keech said she had been in contact with Gouws who indicated that he would deal directly with the relevant authorities at the Humewood police station to arrange for his client to be held there pending his next court appearance on Friday.

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