Prof of­fers to help end debt night­mare

The Herald (South Africa) - - Front Page - Hen­drick Mphande mphan­deh@ti­soblack­

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.



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