A shocking judgment that cannot be allowed to stand

Posted 24 April 2018

The Standard Bank v Nkwana case recently decided in the Pretoria High Court seemed to be a major step back for home owners facing repossession and eviction. The case was argued on behalf of Nkwana by Lawyers for Human Rights, and will almost certainly be appealed - especially the court's ruling that it was okay for banks to continue selling repossessed properties for a fraction of their market value. This absurd judgment prompted a response from former public protector Thuli Madonsela: "With due respect to the court, I consider this judgement to be grossly unjust and inequitable. It is as a setback regarding social justice. Should this matter be taken on appeal, it would be great if all those concerned about social justice join in as amicus curae."

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Petition to Ramaphosa to freeze evictions and investigate bankers for crimes

Posted 03 April 2018

The Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation has sent a petition to President Ramaphosa detailing rampant abuses by the banks. It has asked the President to make it far more difficult to evict defaulting home owners by forcing the courts to sell repossessed properties at market price and allowing financially distressed customers at least six months to get back on their feet before recommencing bond repayments - as is common in many other countries. It also wants the President to order an investigation into the criminal liability of banking executives and directors for knowingly selling properties for less than their value after the Constitution was introduced in 1994.

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Alberton couple kick Standard Bank to touch

Posted 19 March 2018

An Alberton couple recently defeated an attempt by Standard Bank to repossess their home after they demonstrated that they had settled the arrears the bank was claiming. Thousands of other South Africans in a similar position should pay attention. It could save their houses.

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Zuma's mortgage banker, VBS, placed under curatorship

Posted 12 March 2018

VBS, a small mutual bank with R2bn in assets, shot to prominence in 2017 when it awarded then President Zuma a R7,8m home loan. It has now been placed under curatorship by the Reserve Bank following a run by municipal depositors, who have been warned that they are violating the law by placing money on deposit with VBS, as it does not have a full banking licence.

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How Royal Bank of Scotland trained employees to forge signatures

Posted 28 February 2018

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) employees were trained to forge signatures on documents and fabricate financial instruments on a routine basis to foreclose on homes they couldn't prove they owned. They also pushed struggling businesses into liquidation and then sold the assets for a profit - all to boost bonuses. One great grandmother nabbed the bank forging her signature to take out an insurance policy shje never asked for. This, by the way, has been going on in numerous cases in SA, with the courts turning a blind eye. It's time for bank whistleblowers to step forward.

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Capitec Bank is the latest target of the sleuths at Viceroy Research

Posted 30 January 2018

Viceroy Research, which last year highlighted accounting irregularities at Steinhoff and brought it to its knees, has this time shone a light on Capitec Bank, calling it a “loan shark with massively understated defaults masquerading as a community finance provider”.

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New court rules make it harder for repossessed homes to be sold for a pittance

Posted 06 December 2017

One of the outrageous abuses taking place under the noses of our courts in SA is the ability of banks to repossess homes when a customer is three months in default, and then sell the property at sheriff’s auctions for a pittance. This leaves the customer without a home, and an outstanding debt to the bank. Needless to say, this abuse was a gift to criminal syndicates and property speculators, who feed on the misery of others by picking up these properties for as little as R100. Well, that just became a whole lot more difficult. New court rules gazetted last week make it far more difficult for banks to get away with this. For distressed home owners, putting up a strong defence against the banks got a whole lot easier. 

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Nedbank accused of reckless lending

Posted 08 October 2017

Nedbank has been accused of reckless lending after a Port Elizabeth woman was lent R30,182 - more than 5,5 times her monthly salary - and ended up paying back more than double this over four years at an annual interest rate of 35,4%.

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The psychological warfare of loan servicing

Posted 01 October 2017

The Foreclosure Machine is engaging in a deliberate strategy of emotional abuse towards desperate homeowners who are looking for an equitable solution (when most simply want an opportunity to meet the terms of their mortgage). The bank representatives may speak professionally, and even appear to be concerned, but their words are meant to deceive and may even kill. The stress created from corporate psychological abuse often culminates in health problems that may result in a silent death or even suicide. The banks do not play fair, and they will do whatever is necessary to take a home - including the destruction of a life if necessary.

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How the banks are denying your Constitutional right of access to justice

Posted 25 September 2017

Here's arguably the most effective tool in the homeowners' arsenal when the bank attempts to foreclose on your house in the High Court - simply insist that the matter is heard in the Magistrates Courts, wher the costs are much lower. Attorneys representing the banks will lose their appetite for the fight because the allowed legal fees they can charge in the Magistrates court in often less than 10% that of the High Court.

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An unlikely alliance of white farmers and Communist Party members join hands to fight evictions

Posted 21 September 2017

An unlikely alliance of white farmers, the SA Communist Party, trade unions and individuals whose homes have been repossessed by the four major banks came together outside the South Gauteng High Court on Friday to call for a freeze on evictions. This is the start of a "mass rolling action" campaign that is now being taken countrywide.

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Shoprite fined R1m for reckless lending

Posted 07 September 2017

It has long been argued that South African banks and retailers have engaged in reckless lending, in complete defiance of the National Credit Act. For example, should a bank entice you into a "consolidated debt" account - rolling all your individual debts into one - it is required to do a fresh credit assessment. If you later run into financial difficulty and cannot meet these monthly repayments, you have grounds for claiming reckless lending on the part of the bank. Shoprite has now been found guilty of this practice by the National Credit Regulator. 

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Standard Bank's Sim Tshabalala put to the test over "vindictive" home foreclosure

Posted 30 August 2017

In a recent interview, Standard Bank joint-CEO Sim Tshabalala claimed the bank only sells debtors’ homes in execution “as a last resort”, and that it was eager to develop lifelong relationships with its clients. This ought to be good news for those involved in legal action with the bank, but it certainly is not the experience of the Kudoos family of Glen Marais in Johannesburg, who took out a mortgage loan with the bank in 2001.

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Open letter to Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala

Posted 21 August 2017

Moneyweb recently reported Standard Bank's CEO Sim Tshabalala as saying the bank regarded eviction of clients from their homes as a last resort, and that the bank was eager to develop a "lifelong relationship with its clients. This was in response to the story that the four major lending banks face a R60bn Constitutional Court case for abusive home repossession and eviction tactics. One of the architects of the case, Advocate Douglas Shaw, responds to Tshabalala with the following open letter, questioning whether there is any merit in Tshabalala's claim that the bank uses repossession and eviction as a "last resort".

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R60bn Constitutional Court case launched against banks

Posted 16 August 2017

More than 225 applicants, mostly from Gauteng townships, have launched a suit in the Constitutional Court, claiming damages from the big banks for home repossession abuse. The applicants are claiming R60bn from the banks for unlawful repossession of homes since the Constitution came into effect in 1994. 

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The debt collection scam

Posted 26 July 2017

It’s an all too familiar situation for thousands of South Africans on a daily basis: your phone rings and you nervously look at the number on the screen, instantly your stomach turns with a knot as you recognise the number and once more you are faced with the dreaded choice of answering or blocking the call. You know if you answer you are undoubtedly going have to face a barrage of aggressive interrogation and questions from the person on the other end. If you don’t answer you know it will only be a matter of time before the cycle repeats itself.

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Welkom man owes Absa R1,4m after borrowing R52,000 in 2008

Posted 16 July 2017

It doesn't get more ridiculous than this. A Welkom man owes Absa Bank R1,4m after borrowing just R52,000 in 2008. Even Absa seems a bit embarrased by this travesty of justice, saying it is willing to accept a variation of the court order (which is certainly in violation of the National Credit Act and minimally one of the most negligent judgments to come to our attention).

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Public Protector defends plan to tackle Absa and Reserve Bank

Posted 07 July 2017

The public protector is standing by her controversial report on the Absa-Bankorp lifeboat, in which she recommends that the South African Reserve Bank’s constitutional mandate be changed, saying that she would oppose applications by the Bank and the Treasury to have the report set aside.

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Banks creaming it off bounced debit orders

Posted 22 June 2017

Banks are raking in between R500 million and R800 million a month from bounced debit orders. That’s a sizeable portion of the banks’ non-interest fee income each year for little more than running a piece of computer code. How is it that they have failed to heed the findings of a Compeition Commission investigation into banking charges which recommended a R5 cap on a bounced debit order? 

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Nedbank's attempt to repossess property foiled in Concourt

Posted 13 June 2017

A couple from Meyersdale, Joburg, nearly lost their home as the bank that held the mortgage bond agreement, insisted they pay back the entire outstanding bond for being two weeks late on their payment. The Constitutional Court slapped Nedbank down, arguing that the couple had lawfully reinstated their bond, even though they were late in catching up on arrears.

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How Nedbank sold a family's home for R10

Posted 29 May 2017

Here's a case where Nedbank repossessed a Katlehong home for R10. You read that right. Ernest Mashaba and his family have been put through a decade of hell and have been evicted four times, each time re-occupying the house, believing the bank had made a mistake. Here's the kicker: Ernest Mashaba never missed a payment and has written confirmation from the bank that his mortgage loan is fully paid up. His story is little different from that of Johm Mojaki of Randfontein, who also has written confirmation from the bank that his loan is paid up. His house has also been sold behind his back. "The only way they will get me out of here is in a coffin," he says.

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The world's best economist explains how banks have captured the wealth of the world

Posted 09 April 2017

Michael Hudson is a former bank economist whose job it was to work out the balance of payments surplus of South American countries so the major banks could capture this surplus for themselves. In his new book J for Junk Economics, reviewed by Paul Craig Roberts, Hudson explains how banks have become the new "rentier class" that has displaced the feudal lords of old. They produce nothing, but capture rents in the form of interest that have no costs associated with them. 

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How to defend your home against bank foreclosure

Posted 05 February 2017

Of all your assets, your home is the most important. More than 100,000 homes have been repossessed by banks since the Constitution came into effect more than 20 years ago. Most of these were repossessed because the home owners lacked sufficient knowledge of the law. The good news is that it is getting easier to prevent the banks getting away with this. The object of this article is to try and save your house and explore your legal defence options when the bank attempts to foreclose on your bond. 

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Goldman Sachs appointees fill the Trump administration

Posted 31 January 2017

Has US President Donald Trump, like his predecessors, been captured by Goldman Sachs? One would think so, looking at who he has just appointed to his administration. If that's the case, former Goldman Sachs alumni Nomi Prins says we can look forward to another administration doling out favours to the banks. Already, Trump has made six appointments comprising former Goldman Sachs employees. How did this onetime boutique bank end up on top of the world? Nomi Prins explains.

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Regulator takes Standard Bank to court to stop practice of "set-off"

Posted 18 January 2017

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) is seeking a high court order to stop banks from unilaterally taking money from customers’ savings accounts to settle outstanding balances on their credit agreements — a practice which the regulator says is widespread.

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