When the real estate agent handling their rental deal notified Cynthia Takavadiyi and her husband Farai last Monday that Martha Swart (70) was refusing to sign their lease, they were taken aback. Swart is the owner of the two-bedroom flat the couple was looking to rent.
The couple used to live on the other side of the railway line in the Lwandle neighborhood, but their home had been broken into several times.
“One afternoon when we got home, everything had been stolen. Everything...” the Takavadiyis said.
In 2009, the couple relocated to Cape Town from Harare, Zimbabwe, with the goal of "building a brighter future." Cynthia is a domestic servant for a Gordon's Bay couple who live on Harbour Island. Her husband works in the marketing field. Their two children, ages 13 and six, go to Somerset West's former Model C primary school.
The flat was found on the Property24 website by the couple. The R8 000 rent was within their budget, and the apartment was only three blocks from their children's school. They paid the R18 500 deposit just before Heritage Day, but real estate agent Brigitte Barabas informed them on Monday that Swart did not want them to live in her home.
It was a painful experience for Barabas to deliver the news to the Takavadiyis, according to him. Swart was immediately taken from her books, and all promotions for the apartment were returned.
The Takavadiyis are still in shock, saying:
Why stop us from having the apartment at the last minute? We have a good credit record. If I can afford the apartment, why can’t I find a place to live? I never thought it would be about skin colour, not in this day and age. To be honest, I just collapsed at work.
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