SOME widows might be shocked to learn that they no longer own their homes because their banks have sold them without telling them .
In most cases, this happens when clients are in arrears and fail to make arrangements with their banks. But it happens even when banks are notified, as is the case with Rosina Semosa, whose husband died from a terminal illness.
Before his death they had notified the bank about their predicament and were advised to pay whatever amount they could, she said.
Semosa's husband was waiting for his pension payout, but died before getting it, she said.
When he died in June 2003 Semosa notified the bank. A bank official helped her lodge a claim with Capital Alliance Life, with whom her husband had life cover. He had pledged their house as security.
The payout was R187000 and the balance on the bond R112654.
The bank had indicated that it would wait until the insurance company settled, she said.
But five months after lodging her claim First National Bank sold her house at auction for R15500 without telling her, she said.
In the meantime the insurance was giving Semosa all sorts of excuses to repudiate her claim.
It was only after she approached the insurance ombudsman that Capital Alliance paid the claim.
The bank took R187000 from the insurance company and refunded her the balance of R96000 after taking what she owed on the bond, she said.
FNB still did not tell her that they had sold her house and transferred it to a new owner.
"The house was transferred to the new owner even though he did not pay the full purchase amount," Semosa said.
A statement, drawn from the deeds registry, confirms that Semosa's house was sold for R15500.
In April 2005, FNB invited her to cancel her bond. FNB's letter reads: "We would like you to contact the bank very urgently regarding the death claim paid to the bank in September 2004.
"The account has been paid up and we would like you to make arrangement to cancel the bond and to transfer the credit on the account to the estate account."
On arrival at the bank with her letter of executorship she was given a statement showing that the house had been paid up and she was referred to the transferring attorney, she said.
A month later, before seeing the FNB conveyancer, she received another letter from the bank telling her the house had been sold to Martin Sipho Miya.
The letter reads; "We would like to confirm that the property was sold in an auction and transferred to MS Miya on 30 January 2004 and the purchase price of R15741 was paid to the account on February 3 2004."
The bank also advised her to contact its attorney for Miya's contact details so that she could make arrangements with him to buy the house back from him.
Semosa said Miya did not claim the house.
She pays her rates and lights and water, she said.
In 2005, when she could not pay her electricity bill, she converted to a pre-paid meter after she received a municipal service subsidy. Miya has not paid a cent for services, Semosa said.
"In 2007 Miya harassed and ordered me and my children to move out of our house, but seeing that he was not going to have it his way he took a R300000 loan from Standard Bank and used my house as security."
Standard Bank recently visited her, she said.
"They are looking for Miya, who has not paid the loan and Standard Bank threatened to sell my house if they did not find him."
Semosa, who is in her 40s, suffers from chronic depression and has no money to pay lawyers.
FNB has washed its hands of the matter.
"FNB should be held accountable for its mistake. For two years, they kept me in the dark and took my money when the insurance had already settled, but they had unfairly sold my house," she said.
Both banks are investigating Semosa's complaint.