Carte Blanche: homes repossessed for arrears of R1000

Posted 27 June 2016

Carte Blanche recently exposed the routine violations of human rights by the banks, which have repossessed more than 100,000 homes in South Africa since 1994. These homes are then sold at a fraction of their worth at sheriffs' auctions. As the programme points out, the Constitutional Court has already ruled on this, requiring the banks to use auctions as a "last resort" and to find creative alternatives to the sale in execution.  

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SAA under Dudu Myeni reflects the meltdown elsewhere in SA

Posted 27 June 2016

Dudu Myeni, the chair of SAA, cares little for the solvency of the national air carrier, nor does she seem to give a damn about corporate governance. The SAA in-flight magazine goes into the minutiae of race-based bean counting, and as such appears to be written for staff rather than SAA passengers. The airline has been dubbed "Hollywood" since it has "acting" rather than permanent postings for virtually all key appointments. SAA is one of the reasons SA's state-owned enterprises are dragging us to the brink of junk status.

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How to defend yourself against the banks

Posted 21 June 2016

If every debtor served with a summons defended the action, it would choke the legal system and force the banks to come up with better solutions for customers who have difficulties in meeting their monthly payments. It's an actuarial fact that the average mortgage borrower will either default or settle the bond within seven years. Banks know this. Despite well-intentioned laws, lenders are engaging in reckless lending on a daily basis. In this regular weekly column, Debt Nurse Armand Rinier will explain how to effectively protect your rights and assets when under threat from the banks.

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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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Why are so many bankers committing suicide?

Posted 14 June 2016

Michael Gray has brought out a documentary The Banker Suicides, questioning whether the dozens of banker "suicides" since 2007 were actually suicides, whether they were stress-related, or was there something more sinister afoot. In several of these suicides, there are common threads and connections that went previously undetected.  

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Joburg couple lose two houses over photo-copier machine

Posted 09 June 2016

A young Joburg couple ended up losing two houses after falling R17,500 in arrears on a copier machine they were renting. The Kromers knew nothing of the law when all this was going down, but now they are angry - and fighting back. Had they known at the time what they know now, they would have immediately defended the matter and leaned on the Constitutional prohibition on arbitrary deprivation of property. They would also have invoked the Conventional Penalties Act, which prevents a creditor making a claim such as this out of all proportion to the prejudice suffered. 

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Lawyers rake in cash from blizzard of e-tolls summonses

Posted 07 June 2016

Lawyers are raking in fees from the blizzard of summonses issued by the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) over the non-payment of e-tolls. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), which is fighting e-tolls, has its own legal team to defend the summonses, and has brought in one of the top legal minds in the country, Gilbert Marcus SC, to prepare for the court battle that lies ahead. This is likely to drag out for years, and could clog the court system. 

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We're in an election, and it doesn't look good for the ANC

Posted 06 June 2016

It's official. We are in an election and nearly 3m new voters have registered. Gareth van Onselen crunches the numbers, and suggests it doesn't look good for the ANC. It's unlikely it will win the 60% it claimed in the last election, but much depends on the energy of the opposition in these last few months before voting.

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Klatzow to take on FNB in class action

Posted 01 June 2016

A forensic scientist is planning to bring a class action suit against FNB over its systemic failure to represent its clients' interests on online banking fraud cases. The trigger for this was an attempt by FNB to reach a partial rather than a full settlement of a client's claim that R300,000 was stolen out of her account. FNB attempted to push at least some of the blame on the client. 

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The fight back begins, Greek activists block home foreclosures

Posted 28 May 2016

Where is South Africa's spirit of protest over outrageous bank behaviour in removing people from their homes? Greek activists have taken to protesting outside court houses and successfully blocked 800 home repossessions in the process. Perhaps South Africans will wake up from their slumber and start a similar movement here. Any takers? 

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Judge takes just 45 seconds to dismiss DA's attempt to suspend head of public prosecutions

Posted 26 May 2016

Judge Dolamo took just 45 seconds to dismiss a case brought by the Democratic Alliance calling for a commission of inquiry into the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mongcobo Jiba, who has a long and storied history of going to bat for President Zuma in his own troubles with the law.

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How one woman beat the big banks by reading the small print in her mortgage bond

Posted 25 May 2016

What happened to Lisa Epstein in the US echoes the experience of thousands of South Africans faced with foreclosure - fuzzy legal language, missing documents and a simple strategy of bankruptiung their clients by dragging out legal arguments. Lisa studied up securitisation on her own, read the small print, and finally beat the bank. Here's what happened. 

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Gordhan being hounded by a disintegrating government

Posted 23 May 2016

Finance minister Pravin Gordhan's "imminent" arrest for allegedly setting up a rogue investigations unit in SA Revenue Services some years ago is a symptom of the disintegration within the government. The Hawks could better use their time chasing down the R25,7bn in irregular spending reported by the auditor general in 2014, and nearly R1bn more in fruitless and wasteful spending. 

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Criminalisation of cartel conduct comes into effect

Posted 19 May 2016

As of this month, price fixing, market allocation and collusion could carry prison sentences of up to 10 years. Company managers and directors are now playing in a different league. The kind of collusive tendering we saw in the World Cup and Gauteng Freeway Project will in future likely result in criminal charges against the company bosses involved.

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Zuma's back - is Pravin on borrowed time?

Posted 15 May 2016

The presidency was quick to squash rumours that finance minister Pravin Gordhan is about to be arrested for his alleged role in setting up a rogue investigations unit when he headed up SA Revenue Services. But the Hawks appear to have other plans. Zuma's recent behaviour suggests he is far from beaten. His mood was ebullient in recent days as visited Eskom's head office and declared power cuts a thing of the past. Then it was on to SAA to bestow his blessings there. Maybe Pravin will see out his term to 2019, but don't count on it.

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Jobs crisis is just beginning

Posted 11 May 2016

The latest figures show unemployment up at 26,7%, but the worst is yet to come. SA could lose a further 400,000 jobs next year according to one estimate, as reported in Moneyweb. This spells trouble for the ruling party heading into the local elections later this year, and the opposition will make sport of these figures to boost their electoral chances. 

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Court decision is a blow to trade union stranglehold over workers

Posted 09 May 2016

The Free Market Foundation's challenge to labour unions was heard recently in the High Court, with both sides hailing it as a victory. It's clear the Foundation has grounds to celebrate as the judge's findings will make it more difficult for the minister of labour to extend so-called Bargaining Council Agreements (BCA) to employers who fall outside the BCA system. The Foundation says this is a victory for the millions of South Africans unemployed, and for marginalised workers.

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The West is travelling a road to economic ruin

Posted 05 May 2016

Economist Michael Hudson recently had plenty to say about the Panama Papers. He has a new book out called Killing the Host which explains how US banks set up branches in Panama and Liberia - where income tax rates are zero - as a way to attract criminal drug money to the US rather than Switzerland. And how international corporations can book their earnings in Panama at zero tax, meanwhile the cash is safely stowed in a New York bank. Paul Craig Roberts looks at how Michael Hudson has deciphered the world of international finance, revealing a thinly disguised ruse of global proportions aimed at enriching the 1% at the expense of the 99%.  

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Capitec accused of reckless lending

Posted 05 May 2016

Capitec is accused of making unjustified revenues of more than R1bn through its so-called multi-loan products. The accuser is Summit Financial Partners, which advises low income consumers with financial advice. The multi-loan products being sold by Capitec are claimed to generate margins of between 150% and 500%, according to Business Day.

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EFF's Malema high treason charge over threats of violence

Posted 02 May 2016

Economic Freedom Fighter leader Julius Malema leads an increasingly schizophrenic life, applauding the Constitutional Court when it rules against President Zuma over his Nkandla private residence, but trashing the Constitution in the next breath by threatening to remove the government through force if necessary. One of the drafters of the Constitution, George Devenish, looks at the implications.

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Rogue sheriffs put on notice that they will be held liable for illegal evictions

Posted 02 May 2016

All 277 sheriffs around South Africa were put on notice this week that they will be held jointly and severally liable with the banks for unlawful evictions. This follows the sale in execution and eviction of two property owners in Kwazulu-Natal, despite the fact both had cases for rescission of judgment filed with the High Court. Adv Douglas Shaw, who is representing the evicted property owners, warned all sheriffs' offices around the country that evictions and auctioning of properties are unlawful where the property owner has applied to the court for an appeal or rescission of judgment. 

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SA courts make popular judgments at the expense of the law

Posted 28 April 2016

Some recent cases have sparked alarm among those concerned with the rule of law in the country. One of them, surprisingly, is the Constitutional Court case ruling over President Zuma's Nkandla residence. The court effectively ruled that a presidential appointee outside the judiciary may make rulings on unproven allegations. In another case, Oscar Pistorius' conviction for unintentional murder has now been turned into outright murder. Something is wrong here, argues Leon Louw. 

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The economic underworld of bankruptcy for profit - Part 2

Posted 26 April 2016

In the second part of this series, William Black testifies before the Inquiry into the banking crisis in Ireland. He talks from a US perspective, but explains how to tell when banks are behaving recklessly (when their loan books are growing faster than the economy), how bankers have lobbied politicians to get rid of pesky legislation that inhibits their gambling instincts and how they have managed to avoid going to jail. This is fascinating testimony into the dark heart of modern banking.  

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The economic underworld of bankruptcy for profit

Posted 24 April 2016

Professor William Black, an expert on banking and economics from the US, testified in 2015 before the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis in Ireland. In his testimony, he pointed out that the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 is certain to repeat because none of of the criminal bankers that bankrupted the country had been sent to jail - unlike the "Savings and Loans" crisis nearly two decades earlier in the US, which resulted in more than 1,000 convictions. One of the indicators that tell us banks are making "liar loans" is the speed at which lending is growing. If Black is right, modern banking will sink us all. 

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Goldman Sachs $5bn fine is a sham and a disgrace

Posted 21 April 2016

Goldman Sachs got slapped with a $5bn fine for selling worthless pieces of paper called subprime mortgages. But as this story from Newrepublic.com makes clear, the victims who lost their houses over this fraud will get little of the cash. The lawyers, the Treasury and the Justice department are the main winners. Goldman Sachs will only pay out roughly $2bn, which is a fraction of the money the bank made from securitisation transactions during the financial crisis leading up to 2008.

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