Oom, 78, refused to budge from home he didn't own
It took two years and a court case to prise him from the Christian retirement cottage that belonged to someone else
A 78-year-old who moved belongings into a home he did not own “under cover of darkness” has been handed a high court eviction order.
Michael Swart has to leave the Afrikaans Christian Women’s Organisation (ACVV) retirement centre in Robertson, Western Cape, by November 12.
His departure will allow Dedrika Smit, 67, who bought the unit for R740,000 almost two years ago, to move in with her “severely mentally disabled” 44-year-old daughter.
The Cape Town High Court was told that Smit and her daughter, who has the mental age of a toddler, had been living in a 12m² guest room at the retirement centre since mid-2017 because Swart refused to leave their unit.
“[The daughter] is traumatised by her current living circumstances,” Judge Judith Cloete said in her judgment, delivered on October 29.
“It is crucially important for her mental wellbeing that she lives in an environment surrounded by familiar furniture and belongings and which is conducive to a stable and predictable routine.”
Meanwhile, the top-floor guest room had no kitchen or bathroom, and because Smit’s daughter was scared of lifts they had to use the stairs.
“This is painstaking because [the daughter] is scared that she will fall. Their circumstances have caused Smit great anxiety as well, which in turn badly affects [her daughter],” said Cloete.
Swart agreed to buy a unit at the ACVV centre in June 2016 but did not pay for it, saying he could not sell his house. The organisation wrote to him on January 2017 cancelling the sale agreement, and sold the unit to Smit two weeks later.
Swart was asked to surrender his key, but refused to do so and kept paying the levy and occupational rental.
“On 24 April, 2017, ACVV became aware that Swart had moved certain personal items into the unit,” said Cloete.
“A demand was sent to his attorney for him to desist. This had the opposite effect, and Swart moved more of his possessions ... under cover of darkness.”
He moved into the unit permanently on May 25.
Swart told the court he would suffer far greater hardship than Smit and her daughter if he was evicted.
Cloete said: “The reasons provided were his age, that he does not possess ‘any property’ and that he does not have access to other accommodation.”
But ACVV manager Heidi Swart showed the court photographs of two “large, comfortable” houses in Robertson owned by his sons.
Cloete said he had at least R1.4m after the sale of his house, adding that it was “just and equitable” to order his eviction.
“Given that he was able to move his belongings into the unit within a day or so, there is no reason why he cannot move them out within a similar period."