South Africa’s coronavirus debt relief now live

Posted 24 March 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa this week announced that SA is to go into a 21-day lockdown from 26 March 2020 in an effort to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Here are some of the key support measures for businesses, employees and the poor:

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The great foreclosure rip off

Posted 16 March 2020

January’s interest rate cut has effectively wiped out all mortgage bond arrears, say consumer activists. But you won’t hear that from your bank.

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Court decision opens the way for consumers to recover billions in over-charges

Posted 17 December 2019

The Cape High Court on Friday delivered a damning judgment against credit providers for over-charging on legal fees and interest in contravention of the National Credit Act (NCA) which came into force in 2007.

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The days of banks suing you in the high court are over

Posted 03 December 2019

The banks from hereon must argue their cases in the much cheaper and more accessible magistrates' court. 

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Congratulations, your mortgage arrears have been extinguished

Posted 24 July 2019

Last week’s 0.25% per annum interest rate reduction extinguished the arrears on tens of thousands of mortgage bonds. That’s the claim being made by several property owners in cases before the courts involving multiple banks.

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How to save your house from bank repossession

Posted 04 June 2019

In this CFO Talks interview, Ciaran Ryan talks to consumer legal expert Leonard Benjamin about some surprisingly easy ways to stop your home being repossessed by the banks. Also discussed are illegal garnishee orders and how banks are routinely making "errors" when it comes to calculating mortgage bond arrears.

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Thousands of vehicles are being repossessed each year based on false figures

Posted 03 May 2019

Eight years ago debt counsellor Fanie Grové started looking at vehicle loan statements from his clients and was staggered by what he saw: in every one of more than 80 cases he examined where the borrower had fallen into arrears, he says the bank was unlawfully overcharging interest. 

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Standard Bank accused of ‘double dipping’ in home repo case

Posted 03 May 2019

In a case due to come before the Eastern Cape High Court this month, Standard Bank is accused of double charging the arrears amount owed by a mortgage client, resulting in a guest lodge being repossessed and sold at auction for a fraction of its market value.

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Claims of discrimination against black FNB customers heads to court

Posted 04 December 2018

More than 4 000 bank customers claim they were charged 30% more than whites on mortgage loans, and the case is now headed to the Equality Court.

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How to deal with debt collectors and "fake" debts

Posted 29 November 2018

Debt collectors are a pestilence and are expertly guided by smart lawyers to circumvent the law. Leonard Benjamin explains.

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The days of easy evictions are drawing to a close

Posted 19 November 2018

Following the lead recently set by the South Gauteng High Court, a full bench of the Cape High Court will decide this week whether to set reserve prices on repossessed homes.

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Major precedent set for communities affected by mining

Posted 29 October 2018

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled in favour of communities arguing for a bigger say in mining decisions.

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Lonmin says it is a victim of vexatious litigation

Posted 29 October 2018

The Mining Forum of South Africa has applied to the North West High Court to have the mining licences suspended of Lonmin, as well as Eastern Platinum and Western Platinum (both controlled by Lonmin). The Forum, a not for profit organisation that seeks regulatory compliance in the mining industry, says Lonmin has shirked its Social and Labour Plan (SLP) obligations.

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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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Journalists should do some self-reflection

Posted 22 October 2018

The Sunday Times has apologised for running a series of bogus stories that were fed the newspaper by agents of state capture. Among them, the “rogue investigative unit” at SA Revenue Services, the “hit squad” in Kwazulu-Natal, and the rendition of suspects to Zimbabwe at the behest of that country’s security forces. None of these were true, but they had real consequences to the lives of the people who lost their jobs, careers and livelihoods as a result. Writing in The Conversation, Herman Wasserman says this is a time for self-reflection by journalists.

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How banks are routinely over-charging on vehicle loans

Posted 06 October 2018

Eight years ago debt counsellor Fanie Grové started looking at vehicle loan statements from his clients and was staggered by what he saw: in every one of more than 80 cases he examined where the borrower had fallen into arrears, he says the bank was unlawfully overcharging interest. In some cases, the overcharge was 40-50% more than the interest allowable in terms of the National Credit Act (NCA).

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Calling for whites to be treated as Hitler did to Jews declared hate speech

Posted 05 October 2018

In a moment of anger, ANC member Velaphi Khumalo let rip on Facebook that SA needed to be cleansed of whites, who needed to be treated as Hitler did to the Jews. He was responding to an earlier racist comment from Penny Sparrow who referred to blacks “as monkeys”. Both, no doubt, have come to rue their incautious remarks. Both recanted. But Judge Roland Sutherland of the Gauteng Equality Court was not happy with Khumalo’s apparent recantation, especially as he more recently decided it wasn’t hate speech after all. Khumalo's remarks have been declared hate speech by the Equality Court.

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Banks are clogging up the justice system, says court

Posted 04 October 2018

Banks seeking judgment against borrowers should use the magistrates’ courts, the Pretoria High Court has ruled. By bringing trifling matters before the high courts, banks are clogging up the justice system.

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Another victory for debtors as judges rule cases must be referred to lower courts

Posted 03 October 2018

The Pretoria High Court struck another blow on behalf of distressed debtors last week. A full bench of three judges ruled that magistrate’s courts should be the first port of call for financial institutions seeking judgment against their clients, where matters fall within the lower courts’ monetary jurisdiction. This makes it cheaper for people to defend matters against the banks.

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The only way out of our debt crisis is bank failure

Posted 23 September 2018

As we mark the 10th anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, economist Michael Hudson looks back over what we have learned in the last decade. Criminally, the major banks were bailed out but not the mortgage bond holders. Banks are bigger and more profitable than ever, but we have now entered an era of debt deflation - meaning more and more of our money is going to pay back bank debts. There is less disposable income available to purchase goods. Don't be fooled by the apparent calm of the financial system - the only way out of this is for banks to fail, or the grisly alternative - a Greece-style austerity programme, with depopulation, job losses and massive economic shrinkage.

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Joburg court ruling paves the way for class action suit against banks

Posted 18 September 2018

Last week’s Joburg court case forcing judges to impose reserve prices on all auction sales resulting from bank repossession has several important ramifications, not least of which it paves the way for a class action suit against the banks for decades of stealing people's home equity in violation of the Constitution.

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Gauteng court judgment puts an end to cheap bank repossessions

Posted 14 September 2018

A full bench of the South Gauteng High Court ruled on Wednesday that repossessed homes may no longer be sold at auction without reserve prices, except in exceptional circumstances.

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Judges grill banks on home repo practices

Posted 03 September 2018

A full bench of the Johannesburg High Court sat last week to deliberate on how and when reserve prices should be applied before repossessed homes are sold at sheriffs’ auctions. The three judges berated the banks for arriving in court without proper paperwork and expecting to be given judgments against clients.                        

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Expropriation without compensation meant nothing to me till my land was invaded

Posted 02 September 2018

Three black Limpopo landowners have forced Police Minister Bheki Cele and Soshanguve station commander Brigadier Samuel Thine to take action against people who invaded their land in Onderstepoort‚ north of Pretoria. They turned to AfriForum to defend against the land invasion. It has also been reported that Cape Town has experienced a 53% increase in land invasions last year. As several observers have pointed out, these are the inevitable consequences of reckless talk surrounding expropriation with compensation. 

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Court papers reveal the state of the mortgage sector

Posted 26 August 2018

Court papers filed in the South Gauteng by two of the major mortgage banks – Standard and Absa – provide a fascinating insight into the health of SA’s property sector. There are about 8 million properties in SA, of which 82% are residential. This amounts to 6,5 million residential properties, of which 33,5% are bonded. The bonded properties were worth R2,6 trillion in 2017, amounting to 52,4% of the total value of all residential properties in SA, and 56,5% of GDP.

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