Rot in SA Board for Sheriffs alleged

2011-09-22 10:07

Cape Town - A court case against the South African Board for Sheriffs has painted a damning picture of price gouging, mismanagement, threats and a culture of impunity within the body tasked with executing the orders of South Africa’s courts.

So deep is the rot within the organisation that Western Cape High Court Judge Nathan Erasmus resigned as chairperson and of the board in January, saying that he had “lost confidence and trust in the integrity of the majority of the appointed members of the board and cannot, as a judge, serve the interests of justice on this board”.

And when the man in charge of the board’s finances questioned its actions, the chairperson accused him of undermining her and bringing the board into disrepute, and urged him to resign.

Now Mahier Tayob, a forensic auditor and chairperson of the board’s financial committee, has launched a court action forcing the board to disclose “maladministration, fraud and misappropriation of funds” in the organisation’s annual report, as is required by law.


Among the alleged abuses detailed in documents before court are:
- The offices of the Sheriffs of Pretoria Central and Johannesburg Central operated with impunity, overcharging the Road Accident Fund by millions while threatening to attach its goods when it queried excessive fees;
- The acting chair of the body moved to quash an investigation of misconduct against a sheriff following a complaint lodged in July;
- Board members scheduled meetings in Cape Town to coincide with the Cape Town Jazz Festival, and used sheriffs' levies to foot the travel bill.
- The board turned a blind eye when it emerged that one of its own members, a sheriff for Pretoria Central, was operating without the legally required Fidelity Fund Certificate, which would render all his actions null and void;
- The board resolved not to act on a damning report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela for it failing to discipline a sheriff for negligence - after the board failed to act for nine years. The sherriff’s administrative oversight caused a Gauteng man’s assets to be attached.

Tayob brought an urgent application at the beginning of the month to have a caveat (or warning) inserted in the board’s annual financial statements, as they failed to tell the whole story of the board’s income and expenditure.

Tayob also refused to sign off on the board’s financial statements.

The South African Board for Sheriffs, which is appointed by the justice minister, opposed Tayob’s action, but ultimately agreed to include mention of Tayob’s court action. It also mentioned Erasmus’s resignation in its annual report.

As a result of Tayob’s disclosures to the external auditors, the board also received a disclaimer, with the external auditors unable to express an opinion on the financial statements.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe acknowledged in a letter to Erasmus written in February - also filed before court - that he was “deeply concerned” with Erasmus’s concerns and would “act decisively” to address them.


However, in his keynote address to the annual general meeting of the Board for Sheriffs last Thursday, he expressed support for the board’s chairperson and said he was “taken aback to learn that  a member of the board had instituted a court action against the board.

David Bam, the board’s attorney, said the board disputed Tayob’s claims and said many of his allegations were incorrect or untrue.

“All allegations of impropriety and/or wrongdoing are denied,” he said, adding that “a large number of the allegations are highly defamatory” and “were made without good reasons to believe in the veracity thereof”. He said the board members reserved their rights.

“The board is committed to investigating any allegation that may warrant further investigation and is committed to addressing any issue that is found to require action as a result of such investigation or investigations.”

Erasmus was approached for comment, but had not responded by late on Thursday.

  • d2eguy - 2011-09-22 11:11

    most sheriffs are uneducated thugs that get away with theft and hide behind a so called court order that was granted without even hearing the side of the defendents story . A friend of mine had his house broken into by a sheriff and his gang of thieves and countless items were stolen and after reporting this to the SAP it came out the sheriff was actually looking for the previous tenant and not my friend , only some goods were returned but others were never found . the whole judicial system is a bad joke in SA .

  • Danny - 2011-09-22 11:16

    The office of the sheriff is corrupt. In Verulam, the officer of the sheriff colludes with paeople that he is meant to serve notices on, obviously for a bribe. It's virtually impossible to serve notices on certain business people in Verulam.

  • fussed - 2011-09-22 11:46

    I know this for a fact, I have been in a pub where a person who is working with the sheriffs office has been braging about attachinging stuff in businesses and selling stuff privately and even taking orders for what he can get.They even go into locked up businesses after hours to get there orders. The whole bunch is rotten to the core,and steeling is part of there plan as well as cover up for each other

      GTA_Lad - 2011-09-22 11:55

      Sounds like the ANC in general

  • Jean - 2011-09-22 11:52

    What has become to this great nation of ours.. This all jsut makes me sad..

  • Janbantjies - 2011-09-22 11:53

    The sheriffs have always been psychopathic thieves going back forever.

  • Drewster - 2011-09-22 11:55

    Mmm. I wonder if ANC Cadre Deployment was at play here. No it couldn't be. It's been such a success elsewhere.

      AMS-Dammer - 2011-09-22 12:22

      Drewster... this has been on going since the 50's... nothing new here!

  • TextOfReason - 2011-09-22 12:02

    @The Wonderer: Name and shame. That's the power of the internet. Give us the names in the small chance that someone can do something about it. Not to mention that the journos writing these articles like to look at the comments posted by us. Maybe they'll want to do some investigation... Just a suggestion

  • Honor - 2011-09-22 12:18

    I worked for the Board a few years ago and eventually resigned as could not effectively do my work, being constantly overruled by Board members when they acted contrary to rules and regulations, claiming travel monies, flying to Cape Town for fun and games and slotting in a meeting here and there. Staying over at hotels for longer periods than they were legally supposed to. Hiring vehicles or driving instead of flying but claiming the flight cost++ extras. This was over and above things like EFT'ing salaries days earlier because the senior execs wanted to be paid before payday. Cribbing documents. Legal staff would take the complaints against sheriffs and put it in a BIG BOX under their desk. Send acknowledgement letters to complainant and DO NOTHING further for years...In the meantime, people were losing their houses, cars ++. Sheriffs and their staff were buying peoples possessions for a song... it goes on and on...

  • Chive On - 2011-09-22 12:40

    Thats what happens when you put underqualified, greedy, non caring in positions of power. This is probably as a direct result of BEE quota's beeing adhered to so transformation is evident in all government sectors. What they in turn did was hire the first face that came in and said this is wht you do. Also there are some Jazz festival tickets in it for you!!!

  • LP - 2011-09-22 13:20

    I have personal experience with the Sheriff in Braamfontein who failed to execute his duties appropriately due to a company that was supposedly placed under liquidation - no liquidation number ever to be found! And have since found out that the Sheriff and owner of the company been house-friends for years. Been in communication with the Sheriff's Board in CT since March and, even after showing evidence of his carelessness, the Sheriff Board found him 'not liable". WTF! This is so indicative of the way our country is run.

      martinaglia.andre - 2011-11-03 12:02

      I wonder how many people in this country realize what pain and suffering these Deputy Sheriffs have to go through on a daily basis to get these court documents served everyday on people who in the first place are ignorant of the law and fail to seek advice as what to do to solve these problems of theirs, before they get greater experiencing more problems added to their already existing ones. When they recieve a summons they should as soon as possible respond by contacting the attorney involved or their own one, or approaching the Clerk of the Civil Court to defend the matter, receiving at a court hearing, the Magistrates judgement and decision on the matter. No, they don't do that! So here comes step number two. The attorney approaches the court and gets judgement against the debtor, because they have already ignored the summons, and a Warrant of Execution Against Property follows, with the Deputy Sheriff writing up the assests of the debtor found at the given address.The Debtor has more than enough time thereafter to go and make arrangements with the attorney to solve the debt owning to the plantiff. Also they can approach the Clerk Of the said court to have the matter set aside for a re-hearing before a Magistrate to make a final deceision. No! I am stubborn!So what happens the attorney gets no response and orders the Sheriff of the Court to remove the assests as written up to storage for safekeeping. Once this done, the attorney will ask the Sheriff for a Auction date.

      andrew.bannister3 - 2011-11-19 15:21

      I laid charges of theft and intimidation against the Braamfontein Deputy Sheriff in 2006, who while drunk on duty tried to assault me several times and called in 40 Red Ants to assault/intimidate me and my staff. SAPs did nothing, claiming they couldnt find his office while The Board of Sheriffs, whom i complained too, told me the matter was "resolved amicably" despite no contact with me being made! The threats of violence and intimidation continue against me from people who work for that office.

  • martinaglia.andre - 2012-12-19 16:16

    I always suspected something was wrong there. They would never visit the Sheriff of the Court Branches in the Western Cape, to check on our well being. Never allowed any Deputy Sheriff to join a'Workers Union'', or appoint one in this regard. Deputy Sheriffs had to work sometimes up to 16 hours a day and not be able to complain to anyone. No one when finally complaints reached the ''Law Society'' did they do anything. No Medical Cover, No Clothing Allowance, No Petrol Allowance, No Lunch Break or Tea Break for Deputy Sheriffs on the road. Sent out to work on the road in summer day temperatures of 30degrees C and higher, even thoh ugh the were contravening Labour Law. Deputy Sheriffs threatened with prison sentences for false service of court document, by senior Deputy Sheriffs in Manager positions for which they never worked for or wrote a exam. Employing Staff who had court documents served on them for debt, and debt recovery. Closed Office at 12OO Midday every Friday and went home.Just some of the things that took place. Corrupt!

  • Martinaglia Andre - 2013-05-30 11:12

    ''So what has come of this investigation?'' Nothing further heard in the Press or otherwise?''

  • pages:
  • 1