Judge warns widow in eviction case

2017-06-07 13:45
Widow told to seek legal assistance for court date.

Widow told to seek legal assistance for court date. (File)

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A Pietermaritzburg widow, Deidre Rajah, was given a final chance on Tuesday to consult lawyers to fight an application to evict her and her two children from the home in Hayfields where they have lived since 2001.

Judge Graham Lopes adjourned the case until June 28 and urged Rajah, who appeared in person to oppose the case, to seek legal advice.

He warned her that if she “does nothing” between now and June 28, the court was likely to grant an order against her based on the current court papers.

The legal wrangle centres around a family dispute in which Australian-based businessman Jayandra Rajah — Deidre Rajah’s former brother-in-law — maintains that he is the lawful owner of the house in Hesketh Drive in which she and her children live. He wants them to leave.

According to Rajah, who lives in New South Wales, the property was bequeathed to him by his late mother, Jagadamba Rajah, who died on August 30, 2014. He maintains that his parents, Gonakrishnabalah and Jagadamba Rajah, jointly bought the property in August 2001 “as an investment” but had allowed Deirdre and his brother (her husband) to live there until they decided to sell the property or wanted them to move out.

He said his late father had bequeathed the property to his mother in 2003, who in turn bequeathed it to Jayandra on her death.

Jayandra Rajah further alleged his late mother had previously requested Deirdre and her children to vacate the property, to no avail. He says that in November 2010 Deirdre Rajah was given final written notice to vacate the house by December 31 that year but failed to do so.

In terms of his late mother’s will, the property was transferred to and registered in Jayandra’s name on November 24, 2015. As the lawful owner he says he is entitled to evict the current occupants and is prejudiced as long as they remain in the house. He says he has not entered into a lease agreement with them and has not given them permission to continue living there.

Jayandra Rajah maintains that any prior lawful occupation of the property by Deirdre and her daughters, Kemeera (an adult) and Thasuraya (17), has been terminated.

In court documents opposing the application, Deidre Rajah, however, alleges the property had always belonged to her and her late husband, Radhandra.

She says they had merely registered the property in the name of her late father-in-law “for the sake of convenience” because he would qualify more easily for a bond and obtain insurance cover for the bond. The alleged agreement was a verbal one.

Judge Lopes pointed out to her in court that the legal problem she faces is that during a period of some 14 years she has done nothing to claim ownership of the property, not even after the deaths of her parents-in-law (in 2003 and 2014 respectively) nor when her late husband died intestate in March 2010.

Deirdre Rajah told The Witness and raised in court on Tuesday the fact that she and her late husband had spent a lot of money renovating the property and she alleges they met all the bond repayments due on the property.

While confirming she owns another property, she told Judge Lopes this is a bachelor flat and is not big enough for her and her children to reside in.

She told The Witness after the case that she hopes her experience will serve as a warning to “all widows and spouses” to make sure that all agreements they enter into, especially those relating to land and property transactions, are put in writing.

She also confirmed that she plans to act on the judge’s warning and seek legal advice ahead of the next court date.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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