Johannesburg - A Katlehong man who bought a repossessed house has been living in a rented backroom for the past three years because the previous owners refuse to move out.

Since 2011, Rita and Ernest Mashaba, who are in their sixties, and Jonas Moloto, have been fighting each other over the three-bedroom house in Siluma View, Ekurhuleni.

At some point, this bitter battle saw sickly Ernest arrested for trespassing and thrown behind bars as angry residents kicked Moloto out of his home.

Despite these two warring parties being in and out of court many times, the matter is far from being settled.

Moloto, 35, wishes he had not bought the house, because all it has brought him is misery.

He grew up in a shack - his parents never had a proper house. As a result, it had always been his wish to buy his family a house.

In 2011 he saw the three-bedroom house advertised in a local newspaper and went to view it. He recalls that the owners were not welcoming, but he didn’t think much of it.

He liked it and approached Nedbank for a loan, which he was given. But it turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of his life because he hasn’t been able to move into the house.

When he arrived with his belongings, the Mashabas refused to vacate the property.

The Red Ants Security Services were called. They forcibly removed the Mashabas and moved Moloto in. When the Red Ants left, residents used force to remove Moloto from the house and reinstated the Mashabas.

Despite paying more than R3 000 a month since 2011, Moloto is still staying in a rented backroom, while his father and siblings are still living in shacks.

“This hurts; I don’t know what to do. I keep asking myself why I am paying for a house I don’t live in, and my father is very hurt too. I was going to be the first person in the family to own a house. If only I could get my money back.

“My advice to people who want to buy a house is to go to the house you are interested in, communicate with the owners and find out whether they are indeed selling the house,” he said.

The Mashabas blame Nedbank, which financed them in 1993, for the problem. They claim they finished paying for the house and that Nedbank fraudulently sold it not only to Moloto but also to other parties.

They said problems started in 2005 when they returned home to find their belongings had been thrown out of the house and informed that the house was no longer theirs.

It was the start of the fight for the house that saw different companies buying it.

Documents obtained by The Star from the Deeds Office show that in 2010, a young couple paid R250 000 for the house.

Just like Moloto, they were unable to move in, and it is not known what happened to them.

Rita Mashaba said she was surprised to see Moloto arriving with an estate agent to view the house in 2011. After he bought it, they refused to move out, and at some point Moloto opened a case of trespassing against them. Police officers allegedly arrived at the house around 4am and arrested the couple.

As she was about to be put in the back of the police van, their only child, Sipho asked that the police rather arrest him.

Both families say the matter has taken a huge toll on their lives.

Rita said that when her husband left his job, she took over the account and had never missed a payment.

She furnished The Star with documents she claims were proof they do not owe the bank. One of the letters addressed to them states that their account has been settled in full and that it should be closed.

Another letter addressed to client services states that the account was in debit of R498 and that it has been paid.

Mashaba said Nedbank never gave them proof that they were in arrears or that that they were about to repossess the house.

Nedbank’s response:

Due to the fact that the Mashabas are adamant that they own the house and don’t owe anything on it, The Star asked Nedbank to show proof they had defaulted. The bank failed to do so, saying they were bound by the client confidentiality clause. Nedbank failed set up a meeting with the Mashabas where the information could be revealed.

Debi Misura, head of collections and recoveries for home loans for the bank, said: “Nedbank wishes to clarify that following the sale in execution of the property in 2002, only a portion of the funds owed to the bank was recovered, which resulted in a shortfall of R498.90.

“Nedbank can confirm that despite the bank crediting the client’s account with an estimate of the market value of the property at the time, a shortfall amount still remained and was then duly owing by the Mashabas. It must be emphasised that the property was sold to recover the outstanding debt, and the Mashabas have no title or claim to the property. Furthermore, they were required to settle the remaining shortfall amount (R498.90).

“This shortfall amount was subsequently settled and a letter of settlement for the remaining shortfall was issued to the Mashabas prior to the account being closed on our system.”

Legal advice is imperative

Banks usually make all reasonable attempts to contact a defaulting debtor, and would invariably have proof of all such attempts, said Richard Bollaert, the managing partner at RMB Wands Attorneys & Conveyancers.

He said it was unlikely that a financial institution would not make contact with a defaulting debtor, or at least try all available means to contact them.

When it came to repossessing the property, Bollaert said there were many legal requirements, such as the constitutional right to housing, the Consumer Protection Act and the National Credit Act, as well as the general terms and conditions of the bond.

“Generally speaking, should one payment be missed and the debt arises from a credit agreement, notice should normally be given to the defaulter in terms of section 129 of the National Credit Act, whereafter the financial institution can proceed with legal proceedings should the debtor fail to respond thereto.”

Bollaert said that if people found themselves in the same situation as Jonas Moloto and decided to stop paying their bond, they ran the risk of having judgment taken against them. They should rather seek full and proper legal advice on the issue, he added.

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The Star