Lodged: High Court Application against Janet Earl - Carina Bruwer

Views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent a legal opinion

I’ve had numerous requests for an update on my house hell so here goes…
Firstly, thanks for all the hundreds of messages of support, concern and interest over the past couple of months. Things are increasingly complicated and stressful as we have entered a litigation space, but I remain committed to speaking out as openly as possible about the situation, in the hope that my experience will help and protect others…
My application issued under case number 12033/22 in the Western Cape High Court was served on Janet Forbes Earl (First Respondent, aka “seller”, also known as Janet Earl), Van Rensburg & Co (Second Respondent, aka “transferring attorney”) and Remax Living (Third Respondent, aka agent) last week. No relief is sought against the Third Respondent, who is cited as it holds part of my deposit in terms of the Sale Agreement and therefore has a material interest in this matter. The application is to compel the First and Second Respondents to comply with the terms of a Sale Agreement in which I lawfully purchased the First Respondent’s property and have satisfied all my legal obligations to secure the purchase price.
So basically, in layman’s terms, this expensive High Court outing is solely to force the seller and transferring attorney to transfer the property into my name. My affidavit consists of over 70 pages, reduced – with difficulty – from the initial 120 pages, in order to focus exclusively on what I believe is an unlawful cancellation and attempted repudiation. The second phase (once transfer has hopefully been affected) will be to sue for damages – which includes compensation for a large amount of undisclosed defects, removed fixtures and fittings, emotional trauma and loss of income.
The application is public domain, and anyone who wishes to receive a copy of my affidavit, pleadings and/or supporting documents, is welcome to contact me with a short explanation of what your interest in the case may be (i.e. legal, media, public, support, etc).
The last time I posted was a few weeks ago, after an eviction application was launched against me. Although it did not come as a total surprise, I will admit that I have had to dig deeper than I ever thought possible to keep my chin up, having been fighting for my rights in this transaction since February, and realising that not only do they want to take my new home away from me and my children, but that they plan to keep my money too.
Despite all the smoke and mirrors that have been embedded into this unbelievable situation, the crux is this: I purchased a property; met all the suspensive conditions, paid just under R1.4 million in deposits and transfer fees; took occupation whilst awaiting transfer; discovered latent defects, defunct appliances and removed fixtures & fittings which have significant impact on the property value, and I then reported these issues with the transferring attorney, who – albeit appointed by the seller – is paid by me, has an ethical duty to both parties, and whose job it is to affect the transfer of the property. Instead of entering into a fair conversation and/or negotiation regarding the disputes, the First and Second Respondents “cancelled” the agreement. This is while my children and I are already living in the house, and with the transfer already lodged at the deeds office. My bond agreement signed and the balance waiting in Trust.
My High Court application for Specific Performance, followed Janet Earl’s eviction application; the latter being secondary to the determination of the relief sought in my application. I suspect that our Respondents expected me to leave the game at this stage, but by now they should realise that I shall not be ruled by fear.
The case will probably only be heard in / around May next year, due to the congestion in the High Court.
Of course, my Respondent-friends are not content with just waiting for their day in court. The scenario that has been created (engineered?) would be fascinating if it wasn’t so tragic. I’m essentially held at ransom by the fact that the property isn’t in my name, and they are now taking the opportunity to come in and “attend” to some of the defects they were “unaware of”, followed each time by a letter in which I am accused of causing damage to the property. For example, they accuse ME of damaging the roof (which, according to documentary evidence in my possession, has been in a sorry state for at least 6 years and which – with all due respect – a musician-cum ocean swimmer has no interest in stepping on). They now demand that I maintain the pool – which has 2 major leaks which were never disclosed to me – in “perfect condition”, which would entail filling it up on a daily basis, resulting in significant water wastage and possible fines. There has also been a demand that I remove a dry wall I erected to create a bedroom for my daughter. I furthermore have to provide access regardless of my schedule, and regardless of the fact that every interaction causes great emotional trauma. When my attorney respectfully asked to consider my schedule and emotional state when arranging access, van Rensburg replies – presumably at the behest of his psychologist client – with nuggets like “if your client’s alleged emotional trauma is real, she can end it herself by vacating the property”…
So many people ask: “What do they want??” Well, as I argue in my court papers, they want me out because they know I will come after them for the undisclosed defects (and now also the trauma resulting from their recent actions). And to add salt to the wounds, they want to retain my deposits. Remax is in possession of R300,000 which van Rensburg has demanded of them to pay over as liquid damages, but they are refusing to do so pending the outcome of the case. Van Rensburg & Co is in possession of an additional R300,000 (which I was demanded to pay after the contract price was increased in February), plus R711,000+ in transfer and conveyancing fees. It is unclear how van Rensburg is going to justify keeping the latter amount for his client, as it represents transfer fees for a transfer that he refused to affect; he has simply indicated that “all monies paid” will be retained as liquid damages.
I believe I have a watertight application and a very strong case. It is quite unclear to me and my advisors how our Respondents hope to achieve their plan, but until we get to the High Court, there seems to be absolutely nothing we can do, as every beautifully crafted letter my attorney writes, is met with a string of responses which display what I believe to be a hellbent intention to break me on all levels.
Janet Earl (and/or her husband Chris Brown, who I suspect is the one actually instructing van Rensburg) can afford to keep racking up more legal fees, while I cannot. I have spent more on legal fees than what it would cost to replace the roof, pool and floor structure, and we haven’t even been to court yet. I’ve had to give up on prospects of international travel; I have already had to tell my daughter that the loft room I promised her may not happen even if / when the property is finally in my name. I’ve literally had to accept the possibility of losing a significant portion of my life savings and having to start from scratch.
The situation in its entirety has caused me more stress than I thought one person could deal with in a lifetime – during a time where I really just needed a break – but it’s the financial drain that often pushes one over the edge. They know this, but so do I. It will not take me off course; I am not a victim. Money can be made, if you work hard and intelligently. Integrity and steadfastness seem harder to come by.
Whenever I feel sorry for myself, I remind myself how sorry I would feel for the next person who may face this hell if I didn’t stay in, speak up, and do whatever I can to vindicate my rights, and ensure that those who think they can do whatever they want regardless of the consequences, in the name of the law, are stopped from doing so ever again.
I will post another update whenever it is appropriate to do so. Please know that each message and pledge of support means the world to me, and without it, I honestly don’t know how I would be able to keep fighting this. Thank you x
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