Housing ‘scamster’ in court

KAYLYNN PALM

Ebrahim Abrahams, owner of Summear Investments, who is accused of defrauding dozens of residents in a housing scam, appeared in the Mitchell’s Magistrate’s Court on 27 fraud charges, on Monday April 11.

Mr Abrahams, who was arrested on Sunday March 13, has allegedly swindled residents out of thousands of rands, with some reportedly paying him as much as R30 000 to secure government subsidised homes.

More than 50 angry residents protested outside the court on Monday with placards which read: “Pay back the money, skelm”, “He will keep conning” and “We want justice, no bail for fraudster”.

The court room was packed as Mr Abrahams entered the dock, dressed in a blue jeans, shirt and jersey. “Daar’s die skelm”, “kyk hoe lyk hy” could be heard from the crowded public gallery.

Mr Abrahams appeared for a bail application and the case was postponed to Tuesday May 3. He was remanded in custody at Pollsmoor Prison.

Summear Investments is a private investment company based in the Town Centre, who took residents’ money, allegedly to secure a government subsidised home.

It is alleged that the company sold houses under the umbrella of the Cape Town Community Housing Company (CTCHC), which at the time was a social housing partner with the City of Cape Town. The CTCHC opened a fraud case against Summear Investments on January 24 2013 (“Hopes for home dashed”, Plainsman, February 6 2013 and “Fraud case against ’Plain company”, Plainsman, March 20 2013).

Summear Investments apparently called meetings as far back as 2010, targeting home-seekers who earned R3 500 or less a month, blacklisted or not.

People who attended these meetings had been shown house plans and were told they could buy houses according to what they could afford. Residents paid deposits, but had never received their homes.

During an interview with the Plainsman in February 2013 (“Hopes for home dashed”, Plainsman, February 6 2013), Mr Abrahams said the company did not own land or houses.

Mr Abrahams told the Plainsman in that interview that Summear Investments had land availability agreements, and had attended meetings with banks, and the director of Human Settlements’ provincial steering committee for social housing. He said clients paid between R3 000 and R5 000 to cover administration costs for the company to attend the meetings, and money had been used to put land on hold.

At Monday’s court hearing, community worker Sulyman Stellenboom said people had paid amounts of R3 000, R5 000 and R30 000 to Mr Abrahams, but he had failed them.

“These residents are furious and want justice. Mr Abrahams conned them and we want him behind bars. These residents were desperate for houses and all they got was empty promises. No bail for Mr Abrahams, he is a fraud,” Mr Stellenboom said. “Residents worked hard for their money, and trusted this man. We will fight until the end,” he added.

Tafelsig resident Michelle Ga-lant waited for three years for the promised house in Westgate after paying Summear Investments R5 000 in 2013, but nothing was delivered. She said Mr Abrahams was a lair and had scammed many people.

In the same year, Westridge resident Candice Kemp paid R30 000 to Mr Abrahams towards a house in Morgen’s Village near Westgate Mall.

Pensioner Walter Chippendale from Lansdowne said he had paid Mr Abrahams R5 000, but not even a brick laid. Mr Chippendale said he had to sell his car and is currently renting a cottage in Lansdowne.

“He was so clever, he took people to the sites where he supposedly would build our houses and showed people keys in Morgen’s Village.”

“It angers me that this man scammed us. He held meetings, made promises and got our hopes up. He never paid me a cent back, he just disappeared with my money,” he said.

* Sergeant Abdul Lewis from Mitchell’s Plain SAPS, who is the investigating officer in this case, requested other victims of the housing scam to contact him on 021 370 2820 or 072 958 9293.