Move out, judge rules

2011-12-01 00:00

AFTER seven years, local homeowner Rowena Padayachee yesterday won a marathon legal battle to regain possession of her Burger Street house from a couple who have been found guilty of fraudulently attempting to take transfer of the property.

Judge Isaac Madondo ordered Dinesh Lutchman and Akashnee Singh, and anyone else occupying the property through them, to vacate the premises on or before December 15.

The judge said Lutchman, who represented himself in court, clearly has no defence to the eviction application.

Lutchman said he has to be in court on December 15, but Judge Madondo advised him he “can move before that day”.

Earlier Judge Madondo repeatedly asked Lutchman to explain why he claims he has a right to remain in the house as the document he relied on to indicate he and Singh are legally living there was found by a regional court magistrate to be fraudulent.

Lutchman said he felt he was “prejudiced” in the matter as he did not have funds to hire an attorney and his application for legal aid was turned down.

Advocate Devraj Woodhaymal, for Padayachee, instructed by Vather attorneys, said Lutchman was “playing a delaying game”, as shown by the fact that the criminal case where he and Singh are awaiting sentencing on December 15 has been delayed 13 times since they were found guilty.

Padayachee, fearing another unfavourable outcome, was not in court yesterday to witness her legal victory.

“I told my attorney I just could not stand to be disappointed again after so many disappointments,” she said.

“It’s unbelievable that I will now get my house back,” she said.

Responding to submissions by Lutchman that he had spent almost R90 000 on “renovations” to the house and greatly increased its value since he and Singh took occupation in 2004 in terms of a lease agreement, Padayachee said he did not have her permission to make alterations.

Judge Madondo advised Lutchman yesterday that he could issue summons against the owner to recover money he spent on the property if he so wished.

But he said it also appeared that Lutchman and Singh have been living in the house “rent free” and their continued occupation is prejudicial to the homeowner.

Regional court magistrate Chris van Vuuren found in the criminal case that Lutchman and Singh presented a fake deed of sale to an attorney in a bid to fraudulently take transfer of the property after they were given notice for failing to pay their rent.

Padayachee said she inherited the house from her mother in 2004 and never considered selling it.

She denied emphatically having ever signed a deed of sale.

The criminal case is due to return to court on December 15 when the defence is expected to bring an application for Van Vuuren to recuse himself from the case on the grounds that the accused had “observed bias” on his part during the trial.

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