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Court orders business premises owners who kicked out sangoma to immediately allow her back

A file picture of a sangoma conducting her practice as a traditional healer. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

A file picture of a sangoma conducting her practice as a traditional healer. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 19, 2022

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Pretoria - The owners of a Johannesburg business premises who kicked out a sangoma, along with some of the “tools of her trade”, from the office she was renting, was ordered by the court to immediately allow her back into her office.

Her tools of trade included live animals such as a rabbit and a tortoise.

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Hazel Gumbi turned to the Gauteng High Court, Joburg, after the owners of Ralstan Investments Ltd locked her out of the office she was renting at a business premises in Malvern, Johannesburg. It is claimed she was in arrears with her rent.

Ruling in Gumbi’s favour, Judge Leicester Adams said the company could not take the law into its own hands and decide to evict her.

The judge made it clear that eviction could only follow after a court order in this regard.

The sangoma occupied premises where she conducted her practice as a traditional healer with the help of her animals. Her landlord locked her out by chaining and padlocking the entrance, while eviction proceedings were still pending, stemming from her rental arrears.

Judge Adams said in his judgment that Gumbi’s “tools of her trade”, which were kept at the premises, formed an integral part of her practice as sangoma and related spiritualism and traditions.

Gumbi told the court that on April 4 she was “unceremoniously” kicked out of the premises as her landlord did not wait for the outcome of the eviction proceedings he had instituted against her.

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Gumbi, who has a lease agreement with the company, is vigorously opposing the pending eviction proceedings against her.

Her landlord earlier obtained another judgment against her in terms of which she was ordered to pay back the money she owed for being in arrears of her rental.

Judge Adams said it was understandable the landlord was frustrated by his “stubborn” tenant and he locked her out of the office as he probably just wanted her out, but he made it clear this was not the way to deal with the issue.

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The judge said it was a fact the landlord had not yet obtained a lawful eviction order and by locking her out of the premises, he was in fact evicting her himself.

The judge said the landlord “bizarrely” denied he had locked her out of the premises. A representative of the company suggested Gumbi had locked herself out.

Thus, he said, he was not guilty of denying her entry into her office.

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Gumbi, on the other hand, told the court this matter was urgent, as her practice was suffering as a result of her being locked out. She said not only did her clients need her spiritual guidance, but their physical well-being was also suffering tremendously.

She made it clear her clients needed her help on a daily basis and she was letting them down by not being there.

According to her, some of the animals which were still in the office also needed to be fed as the longer this case dragged on, the bigger the chances they would starve to death.

Without deciding on the eviction issue, the judge agreed that by taking the law into their own hands, the landlord’s actions amounted to lawlessness.

Judge Adams said the nature of spoliation proceedings such as this is to prevent the public from taking the law into their own hands and resort to self-help tactics.

“The right of access to court is the bulwark against vigilantism and the chaos and anarchy which it causes.”

He said Gumbi must urgently return until a court had finally decided on her eviction.

Pretoria News

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