'I bought the Oscar Pistorius house for safety'

2014-08-03 15:00

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It was while listening to evidence presented during Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial that something struck Louwtjie Louwrens: there was very little crime in Pistorius’ suburb.

So when the athlete’s home in the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria came on the market, 57-year-old Louwrens bought it – and he intends to retire there.

Pistorius is accused by the state of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

It emerged during his trial that most incidents in the estate weren’t even serious enough to involve the police.

“I live in Boksburg, and the crime situation in Silver Lakes is much better. Safety for me and my family is the most important thing. I did it for my family,” Louwrens told City Press’ sister paper, Rapport, this week.

He saw pictures of the house on television and was impressed by the luxurious space with its four bedrooms, five entertainment areas, three garages and sparkling pool.

In 2011 Pistorius put the house on the market for R6.5?million, a full R2?million more than Louwrens bought it for. It didn’t sell and he took it off the market. But as his legal bills mounted, the house was put up for sale again.

Louwrens says his purchase wasn’t just a dispassionate business transaction. If he’s honest, he said, there was a sentimental aspect to his decision to put in a bid. His children have always been inspired by the Olympic hero.

“He’s a celeb. And I have tremendous sympathy for him,” said Louwrens.

“I actually wanted to surprise my family. When they found out about the bid, they thought it wouldn’t go through. Now it has.”

The history of the house doesn’t bother him. “I’m not superstitious,” he said. In fact, the first time he visited the house, the shooting was the last thing on his mind. He had an unpleasant surprise of his own to deal with.

The bid had been closed and he hadn’t been able to view the house before he bought it. So he was dismayed to find it had deteriorated badly in the 18 months it had stood vacant.

“There is a great deal of water damage. I don’t know what caused it or how much it will cost to repair, but the building contractor is busy with that now.”

The contractor is Christo Menelaou, Pistorius’ close friend and former neighbour. Menelaou will also rent the home initially from Louwrens while it is being repaired.

After the initial shock, Louwrens is feeling much better about the transaction. He specialises in turnaround strategies and interventions through his company, Thamani Mining Consultants, and challenges don’t bother him.

“I don’t believe houses where such things happen have a stigma attached to them. When I read about how much the houses are worth there, I think it’s a bargain.”

Louwrens’ wife, paediatrician Dr Joey de Vos, isn’t as excited as her husband by the prospect of living in the house. “Oh, she’ll get used to the idea.

“It’s a long time before we retire,” said Louwrens.

Oscar’s money woes persist

Oscar Pistorius may have sold his house, but his money woes are far from over.

Brian Webber, Pistorius’ attorney, said in March that it was necessary to sell Pistorius’ “single ­biggest asset” because he was paying his own legal feels. But he will not necessarily be seeing much of the R4.5?million he sold the house for.

According to records filed at the deeds office, Nedbank has registered a bond of R3?555?630 on the property.

Pistorius only paid a deposit of R400?000 in 2008 and the rest of the house was financed with a bond.

Nedbank’s mortgage calculator says Pistorius’ bond repayments would have been more than R31?000 a month if the loan was over 20 years at the prime lending rate.

Pistorius would have had to continue these payments after he moved out in February last year.

According to the deeds office records, he has two other properties – a town house that he bought in 2006 for R674?900 (bond of R680?000) and a town house that he bought in 2008 for R800?000 (bond of about R803?000).

Shortly after he shot and killed his girlfriend ­Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius’ sponsors withdrew their support, and for the past 18 months he has not taken part in an athletics event where he could’ve earned an income.

Webber said Pistorius’ legal fees had increased because the trial took longer than expected. Pistorius has a lawyer and two advocates, one of whom holds senior status. He also approached several ­experts to help him prepare for the trial.

Anneliese Burgess, the Pistorius family’s ­spokesperson, declined to comment on the athlete’s financial position.

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