The High Court in Pretoria has refused to get involved on an urgent basis after a double-storey mansion in diplomat’s row in Brooklyn, Pretoria, was invaded by a group associated with Black First, Land First (BLF).
The house “invaders”, who claim to be students, moved into the unoccupied thatched-roof house last month after getting a locksmith to open the door for them. When confronted, they allegedly said they could not afford accommodation and called their “lawyer”, who turned out to be BLF leader Andile Mngxitama, who is not an attorney.
The executor in the estate of the house’s deceased owners, attorney Mike Potgieter, launched an urgent application to have the students evicted, saying they illegally gained access to the property and were trespassing. Judge Nelisa Mali, however, ruled that the application was not urgent and struck it off the roll.
The main house on the property had been standing empty for years after the owners died, leaving the property to their sons, who both live abroad.
The estate is embroiled in a legal battle with a neighbour who made an offer to buy the house in 2015 and obtained a court order to stop the executor from letting it or selling it to anyone.
Potgieter said in court papers he had called the police after learning about the trespassers from the man who had been staying in the servant’s quarters since 2013, but they refused to assist, saying he had to get an eviction order, as the occupiers claimed they had been staying there for some time.
He said the property was a valuable asset of great architectural significance worth about R3 million, but the unauthorised occupants had detracted from its value and posed a security risk to the property and the surrounding area.
The house invaders opposed the application, saying it was not urgent and that Potgieter had granted them the right to stay there by negotiating with them about a lease agreement to rent the house at a cost of R20 000 per month. Potgieter strenuously denied entering into any agreement with Mngxitama.
One occupant, Amanda Mjindi, said there was no proof that their presence would result in further damage.