Woman defrauded in bogus house sale
The pitfalls of buying property privately were rudely brought home to an Umlazi woman who now finds herself R150 000 out of pocket and without the house she bought for her family.

Snegugu Ntombela, who is wheelchair-bound, saw an advertisement for a house in a newspaper last November and, thinking it was a good deal, jumped at the opportunity to buy it.

Her husband had died in 2004 and she had just received a lump sum of R150 000 from his insurance policies. She had been planning to buy a house for herself and her four children when she saw the advertisement.

"I contacted the seller of a house at A456 in Umlazi, who went by the name of Xolani Dube, and I was told that the house was vacant and that the owner needed to sell immediately. I was taken to the house and, at the time, there were people who were renting there.

"They were a bit surprised that the house was being sold but let us in to view it," said Ntombela.

After viewing the house, Dube accompanied Ntombela to a bank where she made a cheque payment to "eThekwini Estate Agency", a private company registered by Dube.

"I was a bit sceptical about handing over the money without a lawyer present, but he assured me I would see the lawyers the next day, and in the meantime it was imperative to start the proceedings as soon as possible. I know I should have insisted on a having a lawyer present, but I was desperate - my previous dwellings had been blown away and all my furniture was being rained on," she said.

As arranged, Ntombela later contacted Dube to arrange to meet the lawyers and move into the house that she believed to belong to her, but Dube kept avoiding her and postponing the move. She then went to the house and told the tenants to move out because Dube had told her that they were to move on December 6, 2006. She then found out that the owner of the house had never sold it.

Ntombela turned to a policeman neighbour for help. Dube was traced and arrested on January 8, but was granted bail on condition that he pay back the money to Ntombela over three months, beginning that month. Ntombela has not received a cent since.

Police confirmed that a case of fraud had been opened at the Umlazi Police Station, and that
R11 000 had been recovered and was being held as an exhibit.

The matter will go to trial on June 21.

  • This article was originally published on page 3 of The Mercury on May 10, 2007

Article by: Ntokoza Mfusi