Wendy Machanik Properties (WMP) has been provisionally ordered to not trade as an estate agent by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, a lawyer for the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) said on Friday.
“The effect of the interim order [which relates only to WMP] is that WMP will not, in any way, operate as an estate agent until the final determination of the matter,” said Gavin Schär, a director at legal firm Knowles Husain Lindsay.
“Ms Machanik’s attorneys, on her behalf, also gave an undertaking that she will not operate as an estate agent on the same terms [i.e. until the final determination of the matter],” he said in an emailed reply to questions.
The order followed an urgent application by the EAAB, which argued that Machanik did not have the necessary fidelity fund certificate for 2011 to operate, as required by the Estate Agents Act.
The matter was postponed to Tuesday for the EAAB to argue for its application, and for Wendy Machanik Properties to argue a counter-application.
“I expect full arguments will take place on Tuesday. If judgement is not delivered thereafter on Tuesday then the order and undertaking may possibly be invoked for longer,” Schär said.
According to a Business Day report on Wednesday, about 300 estate agents work for WMP.
On Friday, a woman who answered the phone at WMP’s head office said she was not allowed to comment on the matter and no one else was available. The company website had a “currently under construction” notice.
EAAB spokesperson Portia Mofikoe said the fidelity fund certificate had not been granted because they were waiting for the results of a forensic audit of the agency.
Last week, the EAAB successfully applied to place the agency’s trust accounts under curatorship following alleged financial irregularities in the management of the accounts.
A forensic investigation had showed Machanik allegedly channelled funds from a trust account to her company account to keep the business afloat, the Star reported.
City Press reported on Thursday that the EAAB had opened a docket against Machanik at the Norwood police station for allegedly stealing R25-million from her agency’s trust accounts. — Sapa