Prof offers to help end debt nightmare
When he heard about the plight of his 70-year-old widowed cousin in Port Elizabeth, Professor Jonathan Jansen was so moved he made a call that brought her hope.
After a lifetime of charity work, animal activist Patsy Wagner told earlier in November of the humiliation she had felt when a sheriff of the court hauled furniture from her home in full view of her neighbours – all for a debt she said was not even hers.
Jansen, who has a regular column in The Herald, said that over the years he had known Wagner and her late husband, John, and the couple had impeccable character.
It had come as a complete shock to him to learn that her goods had been attached over a debt her son-in-law, Hilton Prinsloo, owed Port Elizabeth lawyer Paul Fouche.
“She has been an ethical person all the years I have known her,” Jansen said.
“It must be very traumatic for a 70-year-old widow to go through all this.
“I told her I will help. She must just tell me how.”
Jansen, of Stellenbosch University, said he was baffled that, after a court granted the order to have the goods returned, this had not happened.
“It’s very sad what happened. I am puzzled that the furniture, which has sentimental value, was removed. I will support and encourage her.”
Jansen’s offer came as a huge relief to Wagner.
“I am grateful to him. I have no husband. I appreciate any kind of help. I will grab it with both hands. I want my goods back,” Wagner said.
Jansen said he was prepared to pay for the storage and transportation costs for the goods to be returned to Wagner’s home in Hillside from where they were removed four months ago.
The saga began before the 2010 Fifa World Cup when Prinsloo approached Fouche to draw up a legal document that would have enabled him to rent out accommodation during the tournament, but he said this had never been done.
He said to his surprise he had been billed and made some payments but could no longer do so when the bill stood at R7,136.71 and he was threatened with legal action.
On the day Wagner’s husband died, a sheriff, armed with a court order, arrived at Wagner’s home with an inventory to attach, among other household items, a fridge, washing machine, tables and a microwave, all belonging to Wagner.
But this move was thwarted through the intervention of state attorney Leonie Hart, who stepped in to help Wagner on a pro bono basis.
But the goods were finally removed on July 12.
It had come as a complete shock to him to learn that her goods had been attached
On October 4, Hart approached the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court, and a judgment was granted against Fouche that compels him to return the goods and pay the storage costs.
Fouche is contesting the order and is determined to hold on to the goods, saying he had become aware of the order only after it was delivered in his absence. He intends to appeal against the judgment.
For the past four months, Wagner has been at her wits’ end as she battled to retrieve her goods.
“What I miss most is my washing machine. I have to pay someone to do washing every week. I can no longer use my hands,” she said.