Haitian Embassy Evicted in Pretoria for Unpaid Rent

According to IOL News (Independent Online, South Africa), on Friday, July 18th, Judge Janse van Nieuwenhuizen of the Pretoria High Court has ruled an order to attach all the moveable properties of the Haitian embassy in Waterkloof for non-payment of rent for 10 months amounting to R550,500 (South African Rand, about US$44,265). The embassy had failed to pay the home rent of about R50,000 per month to its landlords Nosisi Thomaza Sotuku and Ann Hacquebord. One of the landlords has said, she did not notice that the rent was not being paid regularly because she was mourning the death of her husband. The court order was issued under the principle of "tacit hypothec", which gives right to attach tenant's property under such similar circumstances. In his interim order, the judge has said that the Sheriff or Deputy Sheriff may enter the embassy premises and can remove to attach all moveable property belonging to the embassy.


However, when they arrived the premises to follow court orders, one black Mercedes parked in the driveway, followed by three more cars, stopped and prevented a truck loaded with furniture leaving the embassy. Immediately, diplomatic police swarmed the property as they were alerted by someone from the Haitian embassy that, an armed robbery is taking place in the embassy premises, but they found none other than the Sheriff and his men. The incidence attracted the attentions of diplomats of other countries who were driving past the place; they had stopped and enquired about the welfare of the Haitian diplomats. When the members of Haitian embassy were informed that preventing Sheriff from performing his duty is a crime, they argued that their property cannot be attached as they enjoy diplomatic immunity.

However, according to Morris Coetzee, the legal representative of the applicants and landlords, diplomatic immunity is never extended on commercial transactions.

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