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Very ‘un-Jewish’ behaviour of three Jewish businessmen slated



Lionel Marcus, Johannesburg

We have a pertinent example in Johannesburg, which demonstrates this behaviour.

A Jewish single mother with two children was retrenched in 2011 and was finding it very difficult at her age to find a job in order to support her family and service the bond on her modest home in the north-eastern suburbs of Johannesburg. 

She took the decision to acquire an overseas clothing franchise and to open a ladies boutique. The franchise was granted and required that she sign a five-year lease for the premises in order to restrict any other interested party from opening within a reasonable radius from her store, which was situated in the CBD.

A lease was entered into with a company which owns a substantial portfolio in the CBD and the boutique was opened with the investment of all her savings, as well as her inheritance, to help make the business a success.

The boutique traded in the premises for three years and paid rent, including agreed annual increases until the devaluation of the rand and the recession forced her to close the business.

During the three years, she was aware of other tenants coming and going and even though leases had been signed, the outstanding amounts were written off, for whatever reason.

The owner of the property is a prominent Jewish businessman, his MD is a well-known Johannesburg Jewish executive and the credit controller is a retired well-known Jewish businessman. Between these three Jewish community members, they see fit to take this single mother to court to seize her home to settle the balance of the lease.

The owner told her to her face that he would not write off the balance of her lease, as she had a home which was of more value than the amount she was being sued for.

What I find reprehensible is the fact that I am aware of tenants in his buildings who walk out overnight and are never prosecuted, even though they could be forced to contribute to outstanding monies, but a single Jewish mother who paid rent for three years until she was forced to close down, is being subjected to this action.



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