Singh’s company snubs court order

2014-04-23 00:00

A COMPANY linked to Jay Singh and that lost its control of over 1 000 flats last week to the state, may have tried to circumvent a high court order, residents claim.

Just 24 hours after the Pietermaritzburg high court granted an order to the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) to seize and place under curatorship four massive Phoenix complexes and cash valued at over R300 million, all connected to Singh’s business empire, the company managing the flats — Woodglaze Trading, whose director is Singh’s wife Shireen Annamalay — issued a notice telling its tenants to pay their rent into a new account.

The monthly rental collected at the flats is believed to be in the range of R2,5 million.

But, according to the National Prosecuting Authority, the curator of the assets is now in control of the properties and Woodglaze should not be issuing any rental statements.

According to the order granted last Wednesday, Woodglaze could face criminal charges.

The order clearly states, “Any person who holds the property is directed … to surrender the property.”

NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube said the flats are under curatorship and therefore should be managed by the curator.

“As far as we are concerned, once a curator has been put in place to manage certain assets, they are solely responsible. Those previously managing the assets should no longer be doing so,” said Mncube.

Both the NPA Durban office and the curator, Berrange Incorporated, were inundated with complaints by Phoenix tenants yesterday over confusion of where to pay their rent.

The Witness has learnt that Berrange Inc has issued an account number for all rentals to be paid. The curators, along with the AFU, will be meeting residents at the flats today.

Phoenix Tenants Association (PTA) spokesperson Mervin Govender said there are more flats in Phoenix managed by Woodglaze that they want to be attached by the AFU.

“We are collecting tenant leases which we will hand over to the AFU which they have requested to help with the investigation,” said Govender.

The PTA is currently locked in a Durban high court battle with Woodglaze Trading, the eThekwini Metro, KZN Department of Human Settlements and several others. The PTA maintains that when the tenants took occupancy of the flats they were told they would become the flat owners within three to five years.

The order granted to the AFU is part of a wider investigation into the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), with a money trail that starts in the Eastern Cape Department of Human Settlements and allegedly ends with embattled Phoenix businessperson Jay Singh’s business empire.

In a separate but related investigation, a further R101,7 million in cash was attached by the AFU out of a bank account held by Durban-based social housing company First Metro.

First Metro was in the process of acquiring the Phoenix flats owned by Singh and had already taken transfer of the properties in March 2013. This transfer, according to court papers, was also illegal.

Attempts to contact Woodglaze Trading were unsuccessful.

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