Someone fraudulently transferred a title deed to his name, instead of my mother's. What do I do?

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"I have been staying in that house since I was born". (Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images)
"I have been staying in that house since I was born". (Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images)

The following question is part of Groundup's Answers to your questions series and comes from a reader asking for advice on a situation involving fraud and his deceased mother's home. 


The short answer

The first thing you could do is go to the police.

The whole question

I'm having a problem with my late mother's house. My parents passed away and I'm their only child that is still alive. My mom bought a house from someone, but there was a middleman between my mom and the house owner.

I have documents from the police station that proves my mother bought the house from the homeowner. The middleman was supposed to help the homeowner transfer the title deed to my mother's name, but he transferred it to his name.

I have been staying in that house since I was born and I have never seen the man whose name appears on the utility bill. The only thing I know about him is his surname. What do I do?

The long answer

Given that Legal Aid did not help you, but said that you needed to find the middleman whose name appears on the utility bill, perhaps you could start off at the police station where the affidavit was made that confirms that your mother bought the house from the owner.

You could show them the affidavit, explain the circumstances and ask if they can trace the man as he had no right to put the house in his name, and has in effect stolen the title deeds from your mother.

You could ask them to help you lay a fraud charge against the man. If the police, like Legal Aid, are unhelpful, you could consider employing a private investigator to find the man.

There are many private investigation agencies offering services on the internet, but of course, that would cost money.

You could also ask assistance from a paralegal organisation like the Black Sash, or a legal organisation that does pro bono work, and ask them to assist you. Pro bono means that they don’t charge for their services if they consider that the case is in the public interest. 

Here are the contact details of two organisations that may be able to help you:

  • ProBono.org

Email: info@probono.org.za

Johannesburg: tel: 011 339 6080

Cape Town: tel: 087 806 6070/1/2 

  • Black Sash

For free paralegal advice: 

Email: help@blacksash.org.za

Helpline: 072 66 33 739

Answered on Oct. 2, 2020, 2:51 p.m.

Published originally on GroundUp

Also see: 

How can I bring my child back to South Africa from Nigeria?

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