Haitian Embassy court order halted

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It is back to the drawing board for the owners of a Waterkloof property rented by the Haitian embassy after the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria yesterday discharged a court order allowing the attachment of the embassy’s movable goods.

The owner of the property, widow Nosisi Sokutu, earlier obtained an urgent court order authorising the sheriff to remove all movable property found at the embassy in Main Street, Waterkloof, because of alleged outstanding rent of R550 000.

The sheriff and Sokutu’s attorney Mario Coetzee could, however, not proceed with the attachment as embassy staff refused to let them remove any property.

The embassy last week went back to court to set aside the attachment order, maintaining it should never have been granted because they enjoyed diplomatic immunity.

Yesterday, Judge Peter Mabuse set aside the earlier court order, but did not give reasons for his ruling.

The Haitian ambassador to South Africa, Stephan d’Ennery Dejoie, said in court papers that the entire debacle had caused a huge embarrassment not only to him and his family, but also to the country of Haiti.

He said the building was a mess and in a state of disrepair when the embassy rented it and an agreement had been reached with Sokutu’s late husband, banker Tami Sokutu, that the embassy could make repairs to the property and deduct the costs from the monthly rental.

He said it was in fact the embassy that was owed money and not the other way around and Sokutu knew very well the rent would resume at the beginning of August when she launched the application.

Dejoie insisted the building was the ambassador’s official residence and that the application should have been transmitted through officials channels.

He took exception to allegations that he would remove and hide assets and described the implication that he and the embassy were dishonest as defamatory.

The embassy’s attorney Rob Hardam said there still appeared to be a dispute.

“We will take instructions and see if we can resolve the dispute. They (the embassy) are bound to the law as any other occupant of South Africa and will comply with their obligations, whatever that may be.

“We will sit around a table and hammer it out,” he said.

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