By Ciaran Ryan. Article first published by Acts Online News
Ernest Mashaba & son Sipho
Here’s a case where Nedbank repossessed a Katlehong home for R10. You read that right. Ernest Mashaba and his family have been put through a decade of hell and have been evicted four times, each time re-occupying the house, believing the bank had made a mistake. Here’s the kicker: Ernest Mashaba never missed a payment and has written confirmation that his mortgage loan is fully paid up. His story is little different from that of John Mojaki of Randfontein, who also has written confirmation from Nedbank that his loan is paid up. His house has also been sold behind his back. “The only way they will get me out of here is in a coffin,” he says.
Ernest Mashaba (pictured above with his son Sipho) and his family have been evicted four times from their home in Likole Extension 1 in Katlehong, near Johannesburg. Now they face eviction for the fifth time.
Each time the sheriff and “red ants” arrive to remove their belongings from their home, Mashaba and his family re-occupy the house they say they paid for in blood, sweat and tears.
“The house is mine,” says Mashaba. “I took out a loan with the SA Perm (later acquired by Nedbank) in 1993 and never missed a payment. I have paid for this house in full. So why am I being evicted?”
It’s a question GroundUp put to Nedbank, which replied as follows: “It is worth noting that there is a significant amount of time that has lapsed in these matters. As a result, the process of investigating such matters tends to be complicated and therefore very lengthy.
“We assure you that we take the issues that you have raised very seriously and will do whatever we can to resolve these issues for our clients. It is not in our nor the client’s interest to repossess properties. We also encourage and invite clients to contact us as soon as they experience financial hard times, so we can try to find the best solution for them.”
No-one, it seems, is exactly sure how Mashaba ended up in this position – least of all Mashaba, now retired after spending most of his working life as a security guard at the nearby Knights Hospital. In 1993 he took out a R41,485 loan with SA Perm to acquire his dream house in Katlehong. By all accounts, he diligently paid his loan off by way of a monthly R585 debit order. But in 2006, the sheriff arrived at the house and said it had been sold to a new owner. Some time before this, it seems Nedbank had taken a default judgment against him, though Mashaba never received a summons, nor was he ever shown the alleged judgment. And if he was in arrears, the bank never informed him of this nor of its intention to take legal action against him.
The price paid by Nedbank for Mashaba’s house at the auction was R10.
The price paid by Nedbank for Mashaba’s house at the auction was R10. You read that right. Nedbank says this is deceptive as it credited Mashaba’s account with the full amount of the loan outstanding. Yet Mashaba continued his monthly repayments, oblivious to the fact that his house had a new owner.
Be that as it may, Mashaba and his family have been put through a decade of hell, waiting for the next visit by the sheriff.
The first eviction was in 2006, when the Mashaba family’s belongings were dumped on the street. As soon as the sheriff left, they moved back as they believed there was a mistake. Their attempts to convince the sheriff that they were up-to-date on their payments fell on deaf ears. Mashaba and his family were evicted a total of four times – in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011. In 2015, Absa applied to the South Gauteng High Court for his home to be sold in execution yet again. A study of the deeds register shows that the house has been sold multiple times over the last 11 years. All of this happened behind Mashaba’s back, yet each time the sheriff turned up to evict him, he had to suffer the humiliation of having his possessions thrown onto the street.
In November last year the house went on auction and was sold to an estate agent. Mashaba attended the auction and approached the buyer with documents proving that he had bought and paid for the house in full. The buyer pulled out of the sale. Mashaba remains in his house.
His fight is far from over. The sale in execution order remains in force, so it may end up being auctioned again by the sheriff.
All this happened before the National Credit Act came into force, so there was no obligation on the bank to issue a so-called Section 129 notice informing him that he was in arrears and giving him a period of time to either settle the arrears or face legal action.
It was also common practice at the time for banks to take judgment against clients without ever presenting the case before a judge. They would type up what looks like a court judgment and have it stamped by the court register. With this “judgment” in hand, the banks could then apply for the house to be sold in execution through various sheriffs’ auctions around the country.
Over the last 20 years thousands of homes have been repossessed by the banks without ever having their claims tested by a judge. This has since been declared unlawful by the Constitutional Court, which now demands that judges preside on such matters and consider the facts of each case.
An epidemic of evictions in township areas
GroundUp was invited by the Lungelo Letho Human Rights Foundation (LLHRF), which helps people facing unlawful or irregular evictions, to hear testimony from several township residents whose homes were sold behind their backs by the lending banks.
“We have been investigating what can only be described as an epidemic of evictions by banks in the township areas,” says King Sibiya, head of the LLHRF. “We have a number of cases of people who were evicted from their homes, even though they were up-to-date on their repayments, and in some cases, like Mashaba’s, where they were fully paid up.”
Sibiya says there is a conspiracy operating between certain individuals in the banks, property investment companies and the sheriffs’ offices. Former bank officials have set up property investment companies, often in partnership with politicians, and receive advance information from the banks of properties about to go on auction at the sheriffs’ auctions. These are often sham auctions, with syndicates agreeing beforehand on who buys what house and at what price. These are sold without reserve prices, which explains why Nedbank could acquire Mashaba’s house for just R10. This practice of selling at auction without reserve prices makes sheriffs’ auctions a nesting ground for bargain hunters and crooks. It is a practice that is forbidden in most other countries.
We previously reported on the case of Solomon Nhlapo, whose Soweto home was repossessed by Nedbank and sold at auction for R100. Nedbank and Nhlapo’s family have since reached an accommodation, and the good news is that Nhlapo remains in his house, free from harassment by the police and sheriffs. Nedbank has also reached out to those with similar complaints to come forward so an accommodation can be reached.
Here’s the rest of the story http://www.acts.co.za/news/blog/2017/05/how-nedbank-sold-a-familys-home-for-r10