Family left high and dry on late sister’s land

Isaac Bailey of Nooitgedacht, Bishop Lavis, said his family – his wife, four-month-old daughter and two other children, aged nine and 10 – have been without running water for months “and still counting”.

“We have no drinking water, or water to wash or bath, we cannot flush the toilet: the yard is full of human waste gushing out as the drain is blocked and we cannot wash our clothes or do anything that requires water,” said Mr Bailey.

He also wrote to Tammy Carter of the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) who received a reply from Glenda Jeffries of the City of Cape Town to the effect that the relevant officials “are trying to ensure that basic water supply is restored while the matter is investigated further”.

But according to Mr Bailey, nothing happened although the municipality accused him of tampering with the water meter.

The story involves an executor of his sister’s estate who wanted him “off the property from the get-go”. Mr Bailey said he was opposed to her appointment.

The Master refused to remove her and the co-executor resigned soon after he was nominated.

“No lawyers want to work with her,” Mr Bailey alleged.

“We built a 124sqm house on my late sister’s property who gave us lifelong rights, and the contract was drawn up by a lawyer. We signed it in 2008 prior to her death in 2010 and before her will was drawn up. Absa Trust was the executor and along with the heirs settled on our claim amount in 2012, which was R470 000. But Absa Trust withdrew as executor,” and, claimed Mr Bailey, “the money was never paid to me.”

Absa Trust paid the utilities and maintenance, but after they withdrew, neither the executor nor the heirs who were supposed to contribute did so, according to Mr Bailey.

“I put tenants into the main house as it was being vandalised and used their rent to pay utilities and maintenance, but R3 500 doesn’t stretch that far, though. In August 2015, the then co-executor sent the executor an email asking her to send a plumber to fix a leak on the property. But because she refused, the bill rocketed to
R13 000, so the municipality disconnected the water: there is no supply, not even a drip system,” said Mr Bailey.

“We can’t wash, we don’t have drinking water, we can’t use the toilet. When we do flush it, the waste runs into the backyard as the drain is blocked. We can’t brush our teeth, can’t wash clothes and we can’t bath or make bottles for our four-month-old baby. As the account is not in my name the municipality does not want to deal with me,” Mr Bailey claimed.

“We are suffering, and the mayor, health inspector and law society say it’s our problem, and we must live and deal with it. It seems that no one cares that I have minor kids (nine and 10) and a four-month-old who are suffering because the executor and heirs want us out of the house.”

The City’s deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, said the bill in the name of Ms JE Bailey had accumulated debt as a result of rates charges, services charges and, on November 29 (2016), a tampering fee of R5 700.

“The account has a history of non-payment, including non-adherence to multiple agreed payment arrangements. The City was advised of the appointed executor, who is eligible to deal with matters related to the property and account in terms of the executor’s responsibilities,” he said.

“The occupier on a number of occasions has been advised to bring a letter of the executor to enter into any agreements with the City, but, to date, no document has been forthcoming. The City is taking legal collection action on the account that could lead to a sale in execution,” Mr Neilson said.

Former Mayco member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said the water supply to the property had been restricted through the insertion of a flow restriction disc on August 15 2016.

“However, on October 11 2016, an investigation found that the flow restriction disc was removed and the registered water consumption was 358kl from the date of restriction to the date of investigation. Based on these findings, we concluded there was tampering of the meter.

“The water and sanitation department analysed the water consumption at this property from August 31 2015 until August 15 2016 and identified an exorbitant increase in daily usage from
387 litres to 8 611 litres a day.

“The water inspector confirmed these findings,” said Mr Sonnenberg who added the then co-executor had sent Mr Bailey a letter asking him to get a plumber to fix the leak.

“We have not received any information or confirmation that the water leak has been fixed, thus the stringent action taken in order to curb water losses, conserve the water, and deal with history of non-payment.

“The stringent action is in line with the City’s regulations,” he said.

However, Mr Bailey said he had never made arrangements with the City of Cape Town “because the account is not in my name”.