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The horrors of renting out expensive property 13/03/2009

The horrors of renting out expensive property were brought into sharp focus last week when a man who allegedly masqueraded as Jacob Zuma's nephew bolted from a posh Hillcrest home - allegedly owing a fortune in rent and leaving behind extensive damage to the property.

After initially telling The Citizen he was Jacob Zuma's nephew and a senior ANC office bearer the man this week went to ground - turning off his phones after moving out of the rented home he has trashed.

The home owner, Duncan Loynes, told The Citizen that after his experience with the face Zuma relative, he intended to relocate to the Far East, where he has business interest, taking his wife, children and dogs with him. He vowed to never rent out property again.

When The Citizen first called Sikhumbuzo Hlela - described as the tenant from hell by Loynes - he claimed that he, not Loynes, was the loser in the rental agreement.

Said Hlela: "From the instant I moved in these people targeted me because I am a senior ANC official and a relative of comrade Jacob Zuma. The cut the water and electricity off even though I paid my rent on time."

However, The Citizen has established that Hlela is not related to ANC president Jacob Zuma and has no official position within the ANC. Hlela is the son-in-law of Abegail Thandi Zuma, who became a Zuma after marrying KZN south coast IFP councilor Michael Zuma.

Standard Bank told The Citizen that they have a civil judgment against Hlela for a loan of nearly R50 000 on which he defaulted. The eThekwini Municipality have begun civil proceedings against Hlela to recover an undisclosed amount of money the believe Hlela owes them for having dodged electricity and water bills.

Police records show Hlela was convicted of theft in 1993 and sentenced to three months in jail, suspended for three years. Last year he was found not guilty on charges of malicious damage to property and in 1997 the state failed to prove a case of fraud they brought against Hlela.

Hillcrest police told The Citizen they had been called to the property Hlela was renting on numerous occasions because of noise complaints.

Those living near him told The Citizen that when Hlela hosted parties he festooned the rented house with ANC poster and invited the public in, often saying that his uncle, Jacob Zuma, was expected to make a brief appearance. But Zuma himself was never seen in Hlela's company.

ANC spokesman Steyn Speed told The Citizen he has never heard of Hlela: "I have checked with Mr. Zuma's office and they have no idea who this man is. There is no connection at all between Mr. Zuma and this man, I checked thoroughly."

Loynes came across Hlela after hiring Hillcrest-based Remax properties to find them a tenant.
A lease was signed between the Loynes and Abegail Zuma late last year. After signing the lease Remax estate agent Sharon Horne contacted Loynes to inform him that Zuma's daughter and son-in-law would be living in the home.

Said Loynes: "By that I understood that Mrs. Zuma would have living with her. The lease prohibits sub-letting and I was told the Mrs. Zuma was a well-known and respectable businesswoman."

It has been established Abegail Zuma is a low-level employee of the provincial education department.

Loynes told The Citizen that when Hlela first defaulted on his rent he contacted Abegail Zuma on her cell phone. "She repeatedly dodged me, claiming she was in meetings or representing South Africa at the Obama inauguration. She said she was a close relative of Jacob Zuma."

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