Pensioners get raw deal from 'defaulter'

Thembela Khamango

Thembela Khamango

An elderly couple sang songs of praise when told that the house they occupy had been saved from being auctioned.

Richard and Julia Basini had been involved in an on-going battle with the person who sold them a house that actually belonged to a bank.

The couple returned to South Africa in 2001 after 30 years in exile in Swaziland. They were looking for a property at the time and spotted one they liked.

"The house had been vandalised and abandoned, and we decided to find the owner and buy it voetstoets. We knew it would be cheaper because of its condition," said Julia.

She said as pensioners they could not afford a bond or an expensive property, but they had saved enough to buy the house.

With the help of neighbours, they managed to track down the owner, Sewkumar Rajikaran Sukhar, who sold the house to them for R130000.

"We paid Sukhar R90000 upfront in the presence of his attorneys, who were to transfer the house into our names. We also agreed to pay the balance of R40000 in instalments over 36 months," said Basini.

They did so and kept proof of payment. The Basinis said the seller's attorney had to transfer it upon payment of the full amount which was in July last year, but he did not.

"A day after notifying his attorneys that the purchase amount had been paid in full, we received summons from the high court demanding a balance of R68000 which was still owed to Absa," Basini said.

The court papers were issued in the name of Sukhar.

This marked the beginning of their nightmare, they said.

"When we notified Sukhar, he said he had no money and his attorney advised us to find a lawyer since they would only represent him," said the pensioners.

Realising they would have no alternative accommodation should they be evicted, the pensioners approached Absa bank and offered to pay the balance.

The bank turned down their offer even though they had proof that Sukhar, who did not tell them he still owed the bank money, had sold the house and received R130000 for it.

When they received court papers informing them that the house was going to be auctioned. The house was going to be auctioned last Wednesday. Their last hope was Sowetan's Consumer Line .

When approached for comment, Sukhar accused the pensioners of being uncooperative, adding that they were the ones standing in the way of the transfer of the house into their names.

He admitted the Basinis had paid him the full purchase amount, but that he had financial problems and could not pay the bond off.

"I never defrauded them. I am still prepared to transfer the house into their name. They paid me and I am paying the bond on the house they occupy. I had financial problems and missed payments, but that is a thing of the past.

"This should not have come about. They should have discussed this with me, instead they got lawyers and the media involved." he said.

Sukhar has now stopped the sale of the property. He said he is willing to settle this matter amicably.

"If they want their money, I will pay it back. If they want the house, I will transfer it into their name in three to four years time, because I would have paid it off by then," he said.

Absa Bank's attorneys have also confirmed that the auction was stopped after Sukhar paid the arrears last Thursday.

Even though the Basinis were relieved that the auction had been stopped, they still felt Sukhar gave them a raw deal when he sold them a house he could not transfer into their names until the bank had been paid in full.

"Who knows, the bank may still evict us if Sukhar defaults again.

"If he claims he can refund our money, why is he not paying it to the bank and saving us the trouble?" asked the pensioners.

Absa's Deon Oosthuizen was investigating the matter.