Brenda row gets uglier

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

The hostility over Brenda Fassie's royalties has escalated into a war out of court - barely a week after the parties agreed on arbitration.

David Feldman, the executor appointed to recoup her money, which is said to run into millions, is accusing the Southern African Music Rights (Samro) of not disclosing the full extent of monies owed to her.

The Johannesburg high court this week granted an application to Samro and Feldman to resolve their dispute through arbitration. Feldman took Samro to court in October 2006, demanding statements of accounts relating to Fassie's appearances, royalties and contributions into the agents retirement annuity fund.

Samro and Feldman jointly appointed two independent auditors. If they don't agree on the auditors, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants would be asked to appoint the auditors.

Graeme Gilfillan, one of the investigators of Fassie's estate, on Friday read a statement by Feldman cautioning that nothing less than a full disclosure would do.

"What the court has ordered is a forensic audit of Samro's books and records. as to how much is to be paid to the estate," Feldman said.

He blamed the dispute on Samro for their refusal to produce their full financial records.

"We have collected some money for you and our other members for performances of their and your works. We are not prepared to tell you who paid us, nor how much.

"Here is a cheque for the amount we are prepared to pay you. Take it or leave it," said Feldman, claiming this is what Samro does to artists like Brenda.

Gilfillan alleged that Fassie's royalties went to EMI Music Publishing, EMI Music and Sello "Chicco" Twala, Fassie's former producer. The first company is run by one of Samro's directors. EMI Publishing had no proof that it had the right to the royalties.

Papers filed in court by Samro show that Fassie only received R51087143 between 1994 and 2004. Samro claimed that if they had to fully disclose their affairs, they would have to close down.

However, Bongani Fassie, Brenda's only child, said he would not comment on the issue until it had been resolved.