By Alex Eliseev
Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu stands to lose the luxury Sandton home she owns with her husband after failing to pay bond instalments and R160 000 worth of levies.
The former housing minister and her husband, Professor Rok Ajulu, borrowed almost R2-million to build the Riverclub, north of Joburg, house in 2004. Ajulu believes it's now worth over R3m.
Now the couple will have to launch a legal bid to keep the unit from going under the hammer at a public auction set down for March 23.
The Cape Times has learnt that, due to their bond account falling into arrears, Standard Bank turned to the courts to repossess the property.
In another recent development, the homeowners' association of the complex, located along Coleraine Road, secured a Johannesburg High Court judgment to recover R161 045,81 owed in levies and penalties.
Despite being bought in 2004, the house remains unfinished. It is one of two plush investment houses - the other located in Killarney - that the couple owns. A third, in Cape Town, was sold several years ago.
Sisulu - who recently returned from a state visit to Britain with President Jacob Zuma - claims the house is her husband's "project".
Her involvement in it, she says, is purely technical because the two are married in community of property.
However, as a half-owner, Sisulu stands to gain or lose from the investment and is legally bound to the property.
Ajulu, meanwhile, said that a dispute with the builder of the house is to blame for the investment going sour.
He admitted receiving the summons from the bank, but claimed he had made an offer to pay off the entire amount, plus interest, by August.
He said he was under the impression that negotiations were on-going and has vowed to interdict the auction - which he feels is not in his or the bank's best interest.
Ajulu, who works at Unisa and is involved in business, claimed he never received a summons from the homeowners' association and did not know they had gone to court. Returning from Nairobi yesterday, he said he would investigate.
The Cape Times is in possession of the court documents - including the summons and judgment - relating to the levies debt.
According to the papers, the summons was served in November last year, giving the couple 10 days to declare an objection and another 20 to state their case.
Attorney Dino Tserkezis, representing the homeowners association, said Ajulu had made various promises to pay off the amount in instalments but that these have, to date, not been honoured.
Tserkezis secured a judgment to recover the costs on January 20. His case was unopposed.
"The next step is execution of property," he said this week.
Tserkezis hopes he can "piggyback" on the bank's auction to avoid repossessing other property. Deeds records reflect that Ajulu and Sisulu bought the land for the Riverclub house for about R600 000. They further secured a bond of R1 975 000 to build the unit.
The records also reflect two interdicts against the property, which means two separate parties laying claim to the house.
Ajulu said that he had asked the bank for "breathing space", telling them that he was expecting to make a healthy profit from selling an interest in coal mining, which would allow him to pay off the bond. He fears the house will sell for as little as R1.5m on auction.
He said he had paid the bond until the dispute with the builder was sparked by the connection of water to the unit. He has tried to sell the house but did not succeed.
During this time, his account fell behind.
Sisulu's spokesman, Ndivhuwo Mabaya, said the minister was aware of "the challenges" but stressed that there was a legal process under way against the developer.
Standard Bank's auction and property in possession departments confirmed the auction was due to take place in Midrand.