City officials, law enforcement officers and lawyers were left out in the heat last week when tenants of Lochner Road property in Constantia ignored an urgent high court order granting access to the owner and officials.
Almost two hours later, after Diep River police officers arrived, the occupants allowed four officials accompanied by four law enforcement officers access to the property.
One of the City officials told the Bulletin that while there was no sign of a business operating from the premises, the electricity and water meters showed signs of tampering and he had the impression the occupants could leave in a hurry as the contents of the house could fit into a bakkie.
Prior to this, Naruma Salie, who is among 12 respondents listed in an eviction order, and a younger woman were seen leaving the house shortly before the officials arrived. As the women drove away a young man stood in the driveway watching them leave while flicking a flick knife. He then went back inside.
Shortly afterwards this same man refused entry to the officials claiming he knew nothing about the court order.
A law enforcement officer asked if he had not seen the order stuck to the gate the day before, the same day (Wednesday January 20) that the two women who had left the house earlier had appeared in the motions court in Wynberg, where magistrate Sharon Mthimunye told them to abide by the high court order to allow access to the property.
Should the City officials not be allowed access, she told them, the sheriff and police station commander were “authorised to assist and do whatever is necessary to obtain access”.
The two women were at the magistrate’s court to apply for legal aid. They are among 12 respondents ordered to pay the costs in an eviction order for the Lochner Road property. The case was postponed until Wednesday February 10.
The story goes back two years and three months. Catherine Deare took on a couple as tenants in her R5m house. Two years later, Ms Deare was forced to return the house to Absa, which then sold the property on auction for R1.9m. She still owes the bank millions and is bankrupt.
The new owner of the 937m² property is Quattro Partners.
“At that point,” said Quattro’s lawyer, Wayne Hufkie, “the occupants had been there for over 18 months without paying any rent or contributing towards any of the utilities.”
The occupants had caused significant damage to the property and disruption to neighbours.
One of the neighbours, Alan Rogers, said the new owner had the idea that he would evict the tenants and get someone else to move in. That had not happened. Mr Rogers and another neighbour, who does not wish to be named, said they had no idea how many people were living in the house, but they were noisy and aggressive.
“An eviction order has been granted against the occupants that chose not to appear in court to oppose the matter,” Mr Hufkie said. “For remaining occupants that have opposed the matter, the eviction order is yet to be granted. These remaining occupants have applied to legal aid to oppose the application on their behalf. The court will only give a date for the eviction to be carried out once an eviction order against all of the occupants has been granted.”
Ward councillor Carol Bew was at the inspection and said a Corsa had been spray-painted on the premises on Saturday January 13. And the swimming pool was emptied. The occupants were also digging a hole at the wall and there was a strong smell of sewage.
Also in December, the front boundary wall was knocked down in the presence of the sheriff of the court as it was deemed unsafe. In its place is metal sheeting, once part of a car port, covered in green netting.
In court last week, Mr Hufkie told the magistrate that the respondents had tried to avoid being served with court documents and had denied the sheriff access to the property. “In order to demonstrate to the court that the respondents had been served formally, and personally, I recorded proceedings to put before the court,” Mr Hufkie said.
He told the Bulletin that in order for someone to be evicted, they had to be served with a court order. “But in this matter, each time the occupancy keeps changing,” he said. Asked whose name is on the lease, he was evasive.
Richard Bosman, head of safety and security at the City, said the problem building unit could not get into the house. “The illegal occupants refused officials entry to inspect,” he said.
The Bulletin tried to speak to Ms Salie, but she said she was busy and asked us to phone her, but she did not respond to subsequent calls or messages.
The Bulletin was also unable to reach Ms Deare for comment. Mr Hufkie said Ms Deare had been “saddled with massive municipal bills”, no rental income for 18 months and had given up in dealing with the “delinquent occupants”.
Geoffrey Lee, managing executive of Absa’s home loans, said in a situation where a sheriff’s auction was unavoidable, the court considered the valuation and condition of the property together with rates, levies, electricity, and other applicable auxiliary costs, when determining a minimum reserve price for the property to be sold at auction.