Former Banking Ombud and senior Hawks general join SA Litigation Funding Company

Posted 23 October 2018

The campaign against corruption has just got a whole lot hotter. SA Litigation Funding Company (SALFCO) has announced two senior appointments as part of a programme to strengthen its team and expand its services as it prepares to take on several large cases involving civil and criminal claims.

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Legal update: recent amendments to the law

Posted 20 July 2018

The following laws were recently amended. Of note, the amendments to the Debt Collectors Act requires attorneys to register as debt collectors and subjects them to the same law as other debt collectors. The Magistrates Court Act has been amended to regulate the rescission of judgments in certain cases, the manner of issuing garnishee orders, and debt collection proceedings. The Superior Courts Act has also been amended to provide for the rescission of judgments by consent and the rescission of judgments where the judgment debt has been paid.

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Judgment paints a damning picture of prison life at Sun City

Posted 22 June 2018

Following a complaint that Sun City prisoners in Johannesburg were waiting 20 hours a day between meals, the South Gauteng High Court, on Friday, ordered the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) to ensure that meals are properly spaced through the day. There may be no more than 14 hours between supper and breakfast. The judgment goes beyond prisoners’ rights to meals. Judge SM Wentzel paints a damning picture of a department repeatedly flouting the law and court orders. The prison population is double the capacity of the prison. It is designed to hold 1,339 inmates, but actually holds 2,812.

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Thuli Madonsela: The injustice of shady home auctions

Posted 24 May 2018

Things are getting hot when you get the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela coming out with her thoughts on shady home repossessions and auctions. It is, as we have argued here for years, a national disgrace. We are pleased that the Portfolio Committee on Finance has been in touch with King Sibiya, Fred Arijs and others who have argued for legal reform in this area. Our prediction is this will become a central issue in the upcoming presidential elections. Now wouldn't that be great, along with jail time for the criminal bankers and their lawyers responsible for this outrage?

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Dismay as judge dismisses damages claim for child who drowned in pit toilet

Posted 23 April 2018

Five year-old Michael Komape drowned in a pit toilet at a Polokwane school in 2014. His family sued the Limpopo Department of Basic Education for R3m in damages, calling more than a dozen witnesses in a two week trial argued in November last year. It was a harrowing exploration of a dysfunctional government department that had the money to fix school infrastructure, but didn’t – returning unspent money year after year to the provincial treasury. The state offered the family R450,000 in compensation before the trial commenced, but this was rejected as too low. Judge Gerrit Muller threw out the family’s claim for damages of R3m – leaving the family effectively bereft.

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Not all conspiracy theories about courts and lawyers are false

Posted 16 March 2018

Not all conspiracy theories involving courts and lawyers are false. Here, in the grimy halls of justice, the banks are daily flouting the law in ways that most people do not realise. But the tide is turning in favour of customers. A relatively small change to High Court Rule 46 means banks may no longer sell a property without a reserve price. It means properties must be sold at market prices. That in itself will go a long way to halting evictions and dousing the banks’ enthusiasm for foreclosure.

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Why SA needs formal rules for class action suits

Posted 06 March 2018

South Africa needs formal rules for class action suits. One of the problems class action litigants face is first being recognised by the court as a class. In this article written in The Conversation, Theo Broodryk of Stellenbosch University lays out a few ground rules for class action suits that would advance the cause of justice. 

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SA's medieval legal system among the most expensive in the world

Posted 22 February 2018

The late Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, formerly Inkatha Freedom Party’s justice spokesman, was a Constitutional expert and an advocate for sweeping reform of our justice system. In this article he argued that the comraderie between competing lawyers prevents them from properly representing their clients. He also called for an end to the practice of using advocates as sit-in judges on exactly the same grounds - they are likely to go soft on their legal collegaues at the expense of justice. Sadly, Oriani-Ambrosini passed away in 2014 from a self-inflicted gun wound, his body wracked with cancer. He made an indelible impression on SA's Constitution and legal landscape. He called for an end to the split bar system of senior and junior counsel, one of the reasons why SA lawyers are among the most expensive in the world.

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SA preparing to enforce some of the strictest data protection laws in the world

Posted 05 December 2017

The Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act changes the way people and organisations are required to handle personal data. Drawing on legislation in force in Germany and the UK, the new Act imposes heavy penalties for abuses. This, says Sage South Africa, gives SA some of the strictest data protection laws in the world.

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SA's wealthiest woman wins defamation suit against ANN7 owner Mzwanele Manyi

Posted 21 November 2017

Billionaire entrepreneur Magdalena Wierzycka has won a defamation suit against ANN7 owner Mzwanele Manyi, who acused her of economic terrorism. Manyi argued that this was robust discourse and any attempt to stifle debate would have a chilling effect on free speech.

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Parents of drowned child seek justice

Posted 12 November 2017

Michael Komape died in a toilet at school. Now James and Rosina Komape are going to court to compel the state to provide decent sanitation to schools across Limpopo.

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Katlehong family evicted over home loan arrears of R1,000

Posted 06 November 2017

Ernest Mashaba and his family were evicted from their home four times after Nedbank repossessed the property at auction for R10. By Nedbank's version, the family was R1,105 in arrears. But independent legal and financial expert Leonard Benjamin looked into the case and believes the Mashabas were in credit on their account soon after the bank started legal proceedings.

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The curious arrest and intimidation of Prof Norman Finkelstein

Posted 29 October 2017

Professor Normal Finkelstein is a renowned US academic and champion of human rights. So it came as something of a surprise when earlier this month he was arrested in New York, apparently for his defence of a former student, Dr Rudolph Baldeo, who Finkelstein was assisting in a rather messy divorce. Here is a case where the plaintiffs' attorneys perjured themselves and intimidated Dr Baldeo under threat of losing his medical license to hand over his life's work and savings. When Finkelstein promised (and did) expose the corruption in the case, he suddenly received a visit from the police. Incidentally, Dr Baldeo had been to South Africa as a volunteer doctor, just as he had been in half a dozen other countries. Mary Serumaga details the story, and what it says about men's rights, and how easily these are traduced in the rush to defend women - even if their testimony is fake.

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Unexpected victory for one man fighting banking Goliath

Posted 19 July 2017

Sometimes you come across a story where one man, standing alone, fights a lone battle against the bank and prevails. This is the story of Joel Makubalo versus Nedbank, which has just been slapped down by the North West High Court for refusing to stop the sale in execution of Joel Makubalo's house after he paid his arrears on auction day. The judge awarded a punitive costs order against the bank.

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SA's first Zim-style land grab has just occurred, says KZN businessman

Posted 07 May 2017

Sean Naidoo‚ a business from Marburg near Port Shepstone‚ has accused the Department of Public Works of orchestrating the "first land grab in the new South Africa". This relates to a lease agreement in a building, occupied by the SA Police Services, owned by Naidoo. He locked the Department out of the building, claiming he has been under-paid in terms of the lease agreement. 

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King Shaka International - an airport in desperate search of passengers

Posted 28 April 2017

Durban's King Shaka International is an airport in desperate search of passengers. Like most public sector projects of the last 10 years in SA, it ended up costing between two and three times the original estimates. But this one was a corker: it was foisted on Airports Company of SA (ACSA) by then minister of transport, Jeff Radebe, and has lumbered the organisation with crippling debt since then. This crass decision explains some of the other bizarre goings-on at ACSA in recent months. Minority shareholders in ACSA - who have been trying to sell their shares back to government (without success) at something approaching fair value - say the company has abandoned its commercial mandate and now operates as a development arm of government.

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Soweto man in court for trespassing in his own home

Posted 10 February 2017

Solomon Nhlapo appeared in the Soweto Magistrates Court this week charged with trespassing in his own home. This bizarre case is by no means unique. Nhlapo has lived in this house since 1965, but when a sherriff arrived with an eviction order in 2014, he realised his house had been sold behind his back for R100 by Nedbank, which claimed a R22,000 loan taken out by Nhlapo's late mother Mary was in default. Yet Nhlapo has written confirmation from the bank itself showing the loan is paid up.

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DA considers laying charge against Zuma for lying under oath

Posted 30 October 2016

The Democratic Alliance is contemplating laying charges against President Zuma for lying under oath, and accuses him of a transparent attempt to delay and frustrate the release of the Public Protector's report into state capture.

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DA to challenge govt decision to leave International Criminal Court

Posted 24 October 2016

Government's decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) is being challenged by the Democratic Alliance. Burundi has also given notice that it intends pulling out of the Court, as Africans realise they - and only they - are subject to prosecution by the ICC. Perhaps President Zuma and some of his cohorts fear they may some day find themselves in front of the ICC, so what better time to plan their escape than now.

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Soweto man's house sold behind his back for R100

Posted 18 October 2016

Solomon Nhlapo is squatting in the Soweto house his late mother first acquired in 1965. Police have told him he in tresspassing in his own home, and this week he has been ordered to appear to the Protea, Soweto, magistrates court on charges of tresspassing. His house was sold behind his back for R100 by Nedbank, all over a R22,000 loan his mother took out with the SA Perm in 1986. What makes this case all the more disturbing is Solomon has written confirmation that his mother's loan is fully paid up.

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Did Standard Bank lie and cheat to get its hands on computer programme?

Posted 07 October 2016

Here's a case with shades of Kenneth Makate's claim that Vodacom ripped off his intellectual property, adn for which he has rewarded earlier this year with R10,5bn in the Constitutional Court. In this case, Johan Reynders of software company ADS says Standard Bank pilfered his intellectual property when it introduced an anti-hacking solution for its online clients in the 2000s. The difference here is Reynders is claiming $10bn from the bank.

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The perversion of the law

Posted 22 August 2016

French economist and philosopher Frederic Bastiat wrote The Law in 1850. It should be required reading for law makers, judges and legal practitioners. Bastiat argues that the law exists in a very narrow sense to protect the individual's body, liberty and property. Beyond that, tyranny beckons. 

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Outa threatens legal action over SAA's "unlawful" funding

Posted 13 July 2016

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has threatened legal action against SAA should it proceed with a R15 billion refinancing of the airline using a boutique finance house, BnP Capital, which has no track record in a deal of this size or nature, and in fact had its Financial Services Board licence revoked. The board of SAA chose BnP over more credible financial institutions, and agreed to pay three times what other bidders were offering - all in the name of "transformation". Then SAA fired Cynthia Stimpel, the group treasurer, for objecting to this outrageous deal.  

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Dead man's chest

Posted 04 July 2016

When Johannesburg businessman Imtiaz Mohammed was shot dead by a disgruntled employee in 2010, it fell to his widow Hajira to wrap up the estate. Only years later she discovered some dirty family secrets intended to keep her late husband’s assets out of her hands. It turns out her dead husband’s business bank account was kept alive by Standard Bank and other members of the family for 18 months after his murder.

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The land of no consequences for those in high office

Posted 19 June 2016

In this article, Rex van Schalkwyk, a former Supreme Court judge, points out several instances where senior politicians and government officials stomped all over the Constitution, not to mention common law standards of fraud, and got away with it. Instead of being held to the same standard as the rest of us, they abusers were sheltered by their political bretheren. 

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