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Monday Dec 11, 2017

Attorneys deny blame for house scam

While it's standard practice for a property buyer to pay the purchase amount into the transferring attorney's trust account until the property is registered, the community of Khayelitsha prefers to pay the seller directly, conveyancing law firm Heyns and Partners said this week.

The firm was responding to questions after two would-be property buyers claimed to have lost hundreds of rand trying to buy property in the township with the assistance of the firm's Khayelitsha office.

In the first instance, a couple lost R130 000 buying a house in Delft in March, and in the latest case a man lost R136 000 buying a house in Khayelitsha.

The first-time buyers, who independently spoke to Weekend Argus, claimed they were advised to pay directly into the seller's account by the firm's office manager, Godfrey Stanley, a claim the firm strongly denies.

They further alleged that Stanley introduced himself to them as an attorney.

The Cape Law Society confirmed Stanley was not registered as an attorney nor a candidate attorney.

However, one of the firm's directors, Seugnet Nelson, denied that Stanley or any of the firm's employees were involved in wrongdoing.

She said that when he drafted the deed of sale (in both cases), Stanley simply filled in details of the parties in a standard document. Nelson defended Stanley, saying at no point did he advise the buyers to pay the seller directly. Instead, he cautioned them against the risks of doing so.

"Mr Stanley, as in all property transactions, informed the parties of all risks involved in paying the purchase price directly to the seller before registration. The parties, despite being informed of the risks, insisted to process on the basis as agreed between them," Nelson said.

Weekend Argus has been reporting on an alleged housesale scam which has left buyers in Delft and Khayelitsha at a loss. At least 10 people have said they lost between R60 000 and R140 000 buying property which was never transferred into their names.

There is no suggestion the legal firm is in any way knowingly involved in the scam but their offices appear to have been used to make the sales appear above board.

In the latest case, a Khayelitsha man said he paid R136 000 for a two-bedroom house.

He had seen an advert on the Gumtree website and had viewed the property in F section.
Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)

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