A Krugersdorp man approached the South Gauteng High Court to fight a woman who wanted to evict him after selling his house without his knowledge.
In 1998, Magage William Melwele and his late wife bought a property, which at the time was vacant land.
They bought it for R7,000 from Oupa John Mabulala.
It was agreed that Melwele would be responsible for the payment of rates and other municipal levies payable in respect of the property. He would also pay the costs of registration of the transfer, including transfer duty and deposits, as required against his liability for rates, taxes, and other charges.
The transfer was to be effected after compliance with those obligations, and the parties would sign all documents in order to register the transfer upon request from the nominated conveyancers.
There was also an agreement that the purchasers may not, before registration of the property in their name, effect any improvements or changes to the property without the seller’s prior written consent.
However, Mabulala passed away in December 2006, and this was before any transfer documents could be finalised and signed between him and Melelwe.
Mabulala died intestate, and his only child, Banyana Caroline Mokela, was appointed as the executrix.
Melelwe said he went to Mabulala’s family to get the executor of his estate so that they could do the transfer, but his family would not assist him and refused to tell him who was the executor of his estate.
It's not clear when, but over time, Melelwe developed the property by building a house and still lives in it.
Melelwe made sporadic payments regarding the municipal rates and taxes.
As of February 2015, when his last payment took place, the outstanding amount amounted to over R25,000. In short, Melelwe never placed himself in a position to take transfer of the property.
As the executrix, Mabulala’s daughter, Mokela, lodged an inventory with the Master of the High Court listing the property as an asset belonging to her late father, together with household goods valued at R10,000.
Even though Melelwe had developed the property, Mokela gave the property a nil value.
Before Melelwe knew it, he received a letter from attorneys demanding that he vacate the property on the basis that the property was registered to a couple, Sabelo Songca and Lebogang Songca.
The couple provided documents showing that they had purchased the property from the estate of the late Mabulala. A search at the deeds office shows that the property was registered in their name on November 27, 2017.
They also included proof that they were granted a loan of R445,985 by Standard Bank to purchase the property on September 22, 2017.
According to Mokela, she was not aware that her father had sold the land and reached an agreement with Melelwe.
She was also not aware that her father’s agreement could legally invalidate the underlying sale agreement.
Her legal representative said she had stronger rights over the property than Melelwe or anyone else involved in the matter.
Furthermore, it was argued that Melelwe appears to have no intention of transferring the property into his name.
However, acting judge Owen Salmon held strongly that Makola was not in a legal position to reach an agreement with anyone regarding the property.
It was held that even though Melelwe was making sporadic payments to the property rates, he was enjoying undisturbed possession of the land because he paid for it and paid for the buildings on it, and he was recorded in the municipal records as being responsible for the rates and taxes.
Judge Salmon ordered that the deed which was held by the couple be cancelled.
However, he said Melelwe is not entitled to an automatic transfer as he still owes the municipality; he will only register the property after settling the debt.