A 65-year-old woman is on the verge of losing her three-bedroom house in Avonlea, Harare, worth over $130 000 if she fails to raise $3 400 required by a local bank by today following a botched deal between her husband and her stepson.
This story could be just one of many that go unreported of how the new culture of accessing bank loans can be catastrophic if not properly managed.
What is sad about this particular case is that Josephine Chitate — who was not part of the deal between her husband and stepson, Nigel Kaseke — is set to be the biggest loser in the matter.
The shock of losing her home of many years in an instant can be devastating, especially considering that she has lived in this house since 1983 and now it is set to go under the hammer following a visit by auctioneers.
There are many cases in which married couples make commitments without informing their partners knowing fully well that the consequences of such decisions, should things go wrong, would affect their partners and, consequently, their children. That the husband also made Chitate a witness is equally sad.
It is always wise for partners to be open and consult one another when making such important life decisions so that should things go wrong as happened in this particular case, they might be in a much better position to accept that outcome.
No doubt many families have fallen prey to unscrupulous partners in hazy financial deals. Shouldn’t government act to protect the elderly? The culprit, Kaseke, should be forced to take responsibility by honouring the debt and not to make this old woman suffer.
Banks too should show a human face. At law the bank is right in doing what it is doing for it has to protect its customers’ money, some of which it lent to Kaseke.
But when the figure the bank is owed is compared to the value of the house it becomes totally ridiculous and inhuman to auction the house.
On compassionate grounds the bank should reschedule the debt and give the old lady reprieve so the money can be raised either through donation from well-wishers or from relatives. The lady surely belongs to some community organisation such as a church which could be roped in to help raise the funds to save the house from the hammer.
Women’s groups should take an interest in this matter and lobby the government to protect vulnerable women. Whenever such women fall prey to schemes such as this one the government should protect the weak.
Lending institutions, such as banks, should be penalised for lending against property whose ownership they haven’t verified beyond any shadow of doubt.