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Monday Oct 23, 2017

Auctioned estate residents refuse to move

When Hillcrest pensioner Gale Nel secured her bid for a home in the Camelot Estate during an auction in September last year she looked forward to the comfort and security it would provide.

But Nel, 62, has been denied the privilege she paid for because the previous owners, Patrick Stappleton and his wife, Shannon Dicks, have allegedly refused to vacate the premises.

The auctioned property in Camelot Estate, Hillcrest

Stappleton and Dicks have since threatened Nel with court action if she attempts to have them removed.

Instead of enjoying the three-bedroom home that overlooks a lake, Nel is now forced to pay the monthly utility bills being incurred by the couple.

"They are living in my house for free and every month I have to pay at least R4500 for the levy, plus the water and lights they used.

"In February the water bill was R8 700, I don't know if they intentionally left the taps running just to spite me," said Nel.

Nel paid almost R2 million when the house was auctioned in September 2016, after it had been repossessed by the bank from Stappleton and Dicks.

The sheriff's auction came around the same time the couple had advertised the sale of the property for R2.7 million.

"The transfer was done in December and since then they have been refusing to move out of the house. Whenever I attempted to enter the property, they refused.

"I tried to get the lawyers involved and they allegedly lied and said I had a verbal lease with them.

"The rent is supposedly R6 000 a month but they are not even paying that to me. Besides, the rentals charged at this estate ranges around R15 000," said Nel.

She said she wanted to move into the estate for safety reasons as she currently lived alone in another home in Hillcrest. Also, maintaining two houses, including the one she lived in, had become a financial challenge for her.

Nel said she had spent almost R400 000 on utility bills and lawyers charges for the Camelot Estate gated property.

"My biggest worry now is that it is impossible to maintain the two houses. I've had to make serious lifestyle adjustments to meet my financial commitments and it's harder because I'm a widow," said Nel.

She became greatly distressed when she learnt about Stappleton and Dicks's recent arrest on fraud charges after they allegedly misled at least 141 people into investing their money into a Ponzi scheme.

"The Stappletons live off me and now I've found out that they are allegedly running their fraudulent business from my home, and they languish there like kings in a beautiful, secure, upmarket estate, on the lake, free of charge."

In the matter that came before the Durban Commercial Crimes Court last month, the couple allegedly collected investments worth approximately R11.5m.

They allegedly duped investors into believing the money went towards the research and development of an off-road mining vehicle known as a Romero and a paint business known as Umbala Paints.

The couple allegedly promised investors large monthly returns but were unable to deliver on their promises.

They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges and were granted R60 000 bail each, but only Dicks was able to afford bail and Stappleton was still in police custody at the time of publication.

Attempts to get a comment from Dicks were unsuccessful. However, Stappleton's lawyer, Daryl Francois, said the matter between his client and Nel was sub judice and they were not prepared to respond at this stage.

Nel said: "I'm worried that the longer it takes for this matter to be resolved, the more damage they would to do to my house. They have already sold most of the fittings and fixtures," claimed Nel.

Sunday Tribune

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