Estate agent hits back at allegations

Piet Liebenberg
Jeffreys Bay estate agent Renette Block has hit back after allegations by her company that she stole money from her clients.
In a hard-hitting exclusive interview with Our Times this week, Block said no money was missing and that the Jawitz organisation was on a witch hunt to destroy her.
Block’s denials follows accusations by Jawitz chief executive officer Herschel Jawitz of the embezzlement of “between R200000 and R300000”.
He said last week the company was taking urgent legal action and had also laid criminal charges against Block with the Jeffreys Bay police.
Jawitz said they had been alerted to possible problems when their head office started receiving complaints at the end of last year from property owners who were not being paid their rent. The group has taken immediate steps to cancel the franchise agreement and is seeking an urgent court interdict against Block, preventing her from having any access to the business and the business bank accounts.
The matter has also been reported to the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) for further investigation.
The EAAB has frozen the franchise’s trust account and if found guilty, Block could have her license revoked.
Block said things started to go wrong when she was barred from the Jawitz office on December 3 last year. She also believes the Jawitz organisation has been using her trust account for operational expenses since then.
“This is a plot to destroy me, I can account for all money,” she said.
She blamed the Jawitz organisation for non-payment of rental money since the beginning of December when she was prevented from doing business by them. Block said apart from the case currently being investigated against her, she knew that the EAAB were also investigating the involvement of one of Jawitz’s directors.
“To my knowledge no person from the public has laid any complaint against me with the police,” said Block, who claims she was also forced to resign on Monday from an administrative position she held at another estate agency after they threatened court action.
Jawitz said he was not sure to what degree customer funds were affected.
“The audit has been completed and the findings include a statement that the trust account has not been maintained in terms of the requirements of the Estate Agency Affairs Act and that there is a mismatch of funds. However, due to a lack of information it is difficult to determine at this stage the exact amo- unt.”
As to allegations that the organisation paid salaries from a trust account, Jawitz said “Absolutely not. The salaries were paid out of the business trading account.”
He also dismissed allegations that they were malicious towards Block.
“There is absolutely no malicious intent. Only the truth.
“Renette Block has breached the trust of our company, the people in the Jeffreys Bay office and her clients.
“The potential damage to our brand means that we would not take any action as we have if there was no truth to the allegations.”
The case follows the jailing last year of another Jeffreys Bay estate agent, Mariska Smit, mother of three minor children and previous owner of Sun Letting.
She was found guilty of fraud for stealing holiday rental income.

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