court battle between Savita Mbuli and FirstRand Bank has provided a glimpse into the ongoing financial mess she has had to deal with since the death of her husband, TV presenter Vuyo Mbuli. FNB applied for a judgment against Savita at the South Gauteng High Court last month. Court papers claim that Savita, who was married to Vuyo in community of property, owes the bank more than R10 million. The initial amount the couple owed on their plush home in Houghton, Joburg, which they bought in 2001, was just more than R1 million.
In the two years since her husband died, Savita – who is listed by the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission as the director of four companies – appears to have been unable to make the monthly instalments on the double-storey home.
She shares the home with their two children: Siphosihle (17) and Sithenkosi (15).
However, she is now disputing the bank’s claims that she owes it R10 million and insists she only owes them a tenth of that amount. She also says she has no idea why the bank is suing her for an additional outstanding loan of just more than R2 million.
“The total amount that FNB came to of over R10 million is ridiculous. The total amount should be just more than R1 million,” she told City Press this week.
Savita puts the drama down to a “misunderstanding”, which she says she unravelled after the bank served her with a summons as the executrix of her late husband’s estate.
According to court documents seen by City Press, a R1.62 million mortgage bond registered in October 2001 was signed by both Savita and Vuyo. Their monthly repayment was set at R9 262.88.
Savita says she is aware of the amount that is outstanding, but she is disputing the existence of a second loan – R2.04 million – which the bank says she also owes.
In court papers, FNB claims that the couple applied for the second bond on their home in September 2004.
“I, the plaintiff, have no documentation or proof or defendant signatures of this second bond. FNB needs to provide proof of such with signatures from both the deceased and myself,” she said.
FNB Home Loans CEO Marius Marais confirmed that the bank had taken legal action against Mbuli to recover the outstanding mortgage loans.
He said the bank disputed that Savita had no knowledge of the additional R2 million bond.
“There has been a sustained nonpayment of instalments,” he said. “The bank can confirm that the matter is pending before the court. FNB awaits the outcome of the legal process.”
Marais declined to comment further because the details of the case remain confidential.
“It is, however, important to note that the outstanding balance is far less than reported,” he said.
Savita may be able to get out of repaying the additional loan because court papers reveal that FNB admitted that the loan document had been lost, and it has no supporting documents to prove its claim against Vuyo’s estate.
“Neither the original nor a copy of the grant of loan could be found,” the bank said.
Marais hinted that the bank had exhausted every avenue to get its money back, without success.
“FNB’s policy is to explore every possible avenue to settle the arrears and, where the circumstances are suitable, this includes offering customers revised payment options,” Marais said.
Vuyo (46) was with his son, who was then 13, when he collapsed due to a blood clot in his lung while watching a rugby match between the Cheetahs and the Reds at the Free State Stadium two years ago. He died later at the Mediclinic hospital in Bloemfontein.
He and Savita had separated two years before his death, and she moved out of their home and into a townhouse they owned in another suburb because he had allegedly been unfaithful to her.
However, after he died in May 2013, Savita revealed that they were about to reconcile and that she had moved back into their home four months before he died.
She told City Press that in the last conversation she had with Vuyo before he drove to Bloemfontein to watch the rugby, he asked her to forgive him. “He said to me ‘Uxolo, thando’. “Vuyo and I were living together with my children at the time of his death because he wanted to fix his marriage,” she said at the time.
“[He] did not want to sign divorce papers because he loved me. Vuyo loved Savita. He was my husband.”