In­gonyama Trust Board blames its lawyer for ‘neg­li­gent’ evic­tion of Umnini re­sort owner

Mail & Guardian - - News - Paddy Harper

The In­gonyama Trust Board has de­nied re­spon­si­bil­ity for the il­le­gal evic­tion of a KwaZulu-Natal South Coast re­sort owner, who is su­ing it for the nearly R6.5-mil­lion in­vest­ment he lost as a re­sult of the evic­tion.

In­stead, the board has blamed its lawyer, say­ing she had been neg­li­gent when car­ry­ing out the evic­tion.

Ed­ward Mpeko de­vel­oped the Umnini hol­i­day re­sort at Um­gababa on land leased from the lo­cal inkosi and the board. Af­ter he was evicted in 2008, he suc­cess­fully chal­lenged the evic­tion in the high court in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg.

But by the time the court ruled in his favour in 2015, he had lost ev­ery­thing he had in­vested in the 21-chalet re­sort, which he bought in 2005 for R80 000.

Mpeko had be­come in­volved in a dis­pute with inkosi Phathi­sizwe Luthuli, whose sup­port­ers looted the re­sort and van­dalised what was left.

His claim cites the board, to which he was pay­ing R8000 a month in rent at the time of his evic­tion, sher­iff Mandla Mkhize and the board’s lawyer, Sushila Ke­shav.

In court pa­pers, the board said Ke­shav had “breached the duty of care” by fail­ing to pro­vide ser­vices law­fully.

The board de­nied li­a­bil­ity, say­ing that, should the court award the dam­ages, which have es­ca­lated from R2.3-mil­lion to R6.5-mil­lion since the ini­tial claim was lodged, Ke­shav was li­able for the amount.

Ke­shav had, the board said, failed to se­cure a “prop­erly is­sued writ for [Mpeko’s] eject­ment” from the re­sort In fail­ing to com­ply with le­gal prac­tice and pro­ce­dure she had caused the board harm and dam­ages, it said.

In her re­spond­ing pa­pers, Ke­shav de­nied hav­ing acted il­le­gally, say­ing that a “war­rant of eject­ment was au­tho­rised and is­sued by the clerk of the court”.

Ke­shav said she had acted on the in­struc­tion of the board at all times and had not de­parted from the man­date it had given her.

Mpeko’s at­tor­ney, Charles Reece, said the dis­pute among the re­spon­dents as to who was re­spon­si­ble for the un­law­ful evic­tion would be ar­gued as part of the dam­ages ap­pli­ca­tion.

The board’s chair­per­son, Jerome Ng­wenya, did not re­spond to phone calls and emails from the Mail & Guardian.

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