An­i­mal ac­tivist sees fur­ni­ture hauled off

● ‘Dog mother’ tells of night­mare re­moval for some­one else’s debt

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - News - Hen­drick Mphande mphan­deh@ti­soblack­

At the age of 70 and af­ter a life­time of char­ity work, an­i­mal ac­tivist Patsy Wag­ner has told of the hu­mil­i­a­tion she 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.

Wag­ner said her night­mare had started three years ago – on the day her hus­band died – and while she staved off that at­tempt by the sher­iff of the court to at­tach her lounge suite, din­ing room ta­ble, chairs and elec­tronic ap­pli­ances, her goods were fi­nally re­moved from her Hill­side home in July this year.

The house­hold goods were at­tached as a re­sult of a debt her son-in-law – who used to live in an out­build­ing of her home – owed to a lawyer.

Now there is a court or­der for the lawyer, Paul Fouche, to re­turn Wag­ner’s goods, but Fouche says he will fight to have that re­scinded.

A dev­as­tated Wag­ner – who ear­lier this year bade farewell to the An­i­mal Anti-Cru­elty League which she served for 35 years – can re­mem­ber the first of the at­tempts to at­tach her goods all too well be­cause it hap­pened at the same time un­der­tak­ers were re­mov­ing her hus­band John’s body from her home.

In­di­cat­ing a room of her Kriel Street home, Wag­ner said: “He died in that [bed­room] over there on Oc­to­ber 8 2015 and while the un­der­taker was still busy re­mov­ing the body, the sher­iff ar­rived with an in­ven­tory to re­move my goods with a big truck.

“The neigh­bours and fam­ily mem­bers stood there in dis­may and when I asked what was go­ing on, the sher­iff said there was a case be­tween at­tor­ney Paul Fouche and my son-in­law, Hil­ton Prinsloo.

“We did not know any­thing about this case. I was dev­as­tated and em­bar­rassed,” Wag­ner said.

While on that oc­ca­sion the sher­iff of the court had not at­tached Wag­ner’s goods, they were ul­ti­mately re­moved on July 12 2018 af­ter a lengthy le­gal wran­gle.

And now a se­verely dis­tressed Wag­ner is strug­gling to get her goods back de­spite the court or­der that com­pels Fouche to re­turn the goods and pay stor­age costs.

But Fouche is de­ter­mined to hold on to the items and in­sisted he would re­turn to the court in a bid to have the judg­ment re­scinded.

He said he had be­come aware of the judg­ment, handed down in the Port El­iz­a­beth Mag­is­trate’s Court only on Oc­to­ber 17, af­ter it was de­liv­ered in his ab­sence on Oc­to­ber 4.

“The rules then make pro­vi­sion for said third party to ap­proach the court, as the claimant, to sat­isfy the court as to al­leged own­er­ship and, in this re­gard, the court has a dis­cre­tion to is­sue an ap­pro­pri­ate or­der, not only rel­e­vant to the is­sue of own­er­ship, per se, but also le­gal costs and stor­age costs of the sher­iff.

“Ac­cord­ingly, as I had not been able to be heard on Oc­to­ber 4 to test the ev­i­dence given in my ab­sence, I in­tend to ap­ply for the judg­ment to be re­scinded and set aside,” he said.

Wag­ner said hav­ing her pos- ses­sions taken away was trau­matic as she had grown up poor and she and her hus­band had built their lives “from the ground up [and] now some­one took it away”.

“I have never cried like that. I am dis­ap­pointed over the fact that we built up our lives for the past 48 years and out of nowhere some­body just walked into my house and took my fur­ni­ture. Is this the law?”

Leonie Hart, of the state at­tor­ney’s of­fice, stepped in to help the widow on a pro bono ba­sis.

Hart said there was am­ple ev­i­dence to show, through af­fi­davits sub­mit­ted to court, that the goods did not be­long to Prinsloo and that Fouche was well aware of the court date when judg­ment was taken against him to have the goods re­turned.

Prinsloo said the case dated back to 2010 when he ap­proached Fouche seek­ing help with the draft­ing of a cer­tifi­cate that would have en­abled him to rent out ac­com­mo­da­tion for the 2010 Soc­cer World Cup.

He claimed no work had been done for him by Fouche, who then slapped him with a bill of R7,136.87.

“He did not do any­thing to help me. I am very an­gry. Why at­tach the goods of my moth­erin-law? We only stayed there in the back­yard and the goods do not be­long to me and now he comes and at­taches her goods.

“If he wants to fight, let him come af­ter me and not my mother-in-law,” Prinsloo said.

Fouche denied he had done noth­ing for Prinsloo, say­ing the cap­i­tal judg­ment granted in the mag­is­trate’s court against Prinsloo dates back to May 22 2015. It was in re­spect of wasted costs in­curred by his firm and, hence, trans­lated into cor­re­spond­ing li­a­bil­ity by Prinsloo for repa­ra­tion.

“The record re­flects that Prinsloo did make pay­ments in the past in re­duc­tion of the judg­ment debt, in­clu­sive of in­ter­est and le­gal costs and, in ad­mis­sion of his in­debt­ed­ness.

“It is sim­ply un­true that I did not ren­der pro­fes­sional ser­vices to him in the past,” he said.

Af­fec­tion­ately known as the “dog mother”, Wag­ner has been at the fore­front of ed­u­cat­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers on the im­por­tance of tak­ing proper care of an­i­mals – be­ing at­tacked on oc­ca­sion while out in the field.

‘While the un­der­taker was still busy re­mov­ing the body, the sher­iff ar­rived with an in­ven­tory to re­move my goods with a big truck. The neigh­bours stood there in dis­may’

DEEPLY HU­MIL­I­ATED: An­i­mal ac­tivist Patsy Wag­ner, 70, was hor­ri­fied when a sher­iff of the court hauled her fur­ni­ture from her home in full view of her neigh­bours – all for a debt she says was not even hers

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