Covid-19 patient opens case over missing furniture, clothes

Gauteng police spokesperson Cpt Kay Makhubele confirmed that a case of theft has been opened.
Gauteng police spokesperson Cpt Kay Makhubele confirmed that a case of theft has been opened.
Image: Elvis Ntombela

The woman who was allegedly kicked out by her landlord after she tested positive for Covid-19 has opened a criminal case after she discovered that her furniture and clothes were removed from her room without her knowledge.

The woman, aged 34, who asked not to be named for fear of stigmatisation, had been renting a room at a commune for almost a year in Glenvista, south of Johannesburg. She was allegedly evicted by her landlord Azuka Okah when she disclosed to other tenants that she tested positive.

On Monday, the mother of two said she called the police after her friends could not gain access to her room because the locks were changed.

"I had to call other tenants to open for me as they were given new remotes for the gates. I wanted my children's winter clothes because the three-year-old is going to Eastern Cape to stay with my parents," she said.

"I called the landlord but she ignored my calls and she had blocked me on WhatsApp. Seeing that the locks were changed, I had no choice but to involve the police. This was when we were greeted by an empty room."

She said Okah told the police that she didn't know what happened to her clothes and furniture.

"She usually hides the tenants' furniture in the créche that she is running. I am very stressed as I am only left with six days to leave the quarantine place. What am I suppose to do when I leave this place? I had important private work documents and I don't know what happened to them."

She said her children have since moved in with her family in Braamfischerville, Soweto.

Okah's phone rang unanswered since Wednesday. She blocked attempts to contact her on WhatsApp last week and said Sowetan should not contact her again.

Speaking on behalf of the rental housing tribunal, Tahir Sema, said it must be emphasised that only a court may grant an eviction order in SA.

"During level 3 of the lockdown regulations, a court may grant such an order but the implementation of this order is suspended until the regulations permit the execution thereof. It is yet to be determined by our courts whether a landlord is entitled to evict a tenant purely on the basis that the tenant has tested positive for Covid-19," Sema said.

He said the issue of Covid-19 and a pandemic is unique in SA jurisprudence and the issue of how this will be dealt with by the courts is unclear.

"However, it is quite possible that the courts will consider the tenant favourably as the approach from the courts is to balance the interests of both parties before granting the application. A tenant in this position may also approach the rental tribunal for assistance which will, through its processes, mediate the matter and attempt to arrive at a solution acceptable to both parties," he said.

Gauteng police spokesperson Cpt Kay Makhubele confirmed that a case of theft has been opened.

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