Letters

Dear Editor


True colours

BRILLIANT! – Nose149 on FNB’s racist bond rates.

I am also up against FNB (in my case the FNB Pension Fund) who have lied and abused their financial power and controlling grip on the legal profession.

Thank you Noseweek for exposing the bliksems.

Adrian Albertyn

Hermanus

■ thank you for publishing the article “Racist FNB overcharges black clients”.

I look forward to the follow-up story where hopefully FNB will respond.

Zama Zungu
by email

See next letter. – Ed.

FNB won’t take its hand out the cookie jar

Following Noseweek’s editorial on FNB’s racist bond rates, I would like to add the following:

From June 1990, banks in South Africa were not permitted to discriminate against black home-loan clients by charging them a higher interest rate than white home-loan clients as FNB did.

At that time, most banks became involved in low-cost (black) housing. Because of the proportionally higher administration costs on black housing, the banks informed the government at the time that they were going to charge black home-owners a higher interest rate than those of the white market to cover the higher administration costs. This was not acceptable to the government and it was decided between the banks and government that the Usury Act would be amended to allow banks to charge a monthly administration fee of R5 (VAT excluded) on every home-loan account, to cover the additional administration costs.

The Usury Act was amended to allow banks to charge this R5 fee and in return not to discriminate with higher interest rates. (Ref: Hansard, 6 June 1990 page 10 937 to 10 994.)

During the mid-1990s, Saambou targeted clients in the low-cost housing sector, as this market was a lower risk market than the high- cost housing sector for the following reasons:

• All mortgage bonds were government subsidised loans.

• The majority of applicants were government employees.

• Their monthly instalments were paid by debit order deducted from their salaries.

There was no reason for Saambou/FNB to charge these low-cost housing sector clients a higher interest rate for the following reasons.

• Their salaries increased yearly.

• The value of their property increased.

• The outstanding balance decreased over the period.

The default risk of a client is not determined by the area in which he or she stays. The risk is determined by the following factors:

• Value of the property

• The amount of the loan in relation to the value of the property

• Income and payment history of the client      

If a client does become a high-risk client and the bank wants to increase his/her agreed interest rate, it is the duty of the bank to inform such a client. This gives the client the option to move his or her mortgage to another financial institution. If the client agrees to the increase, the two parties must enter into a new written agreement.

Saambou/FNB have claimed that the bank was entitled to charge these inflated interest rates, as the bank’s base or prime interest rate was not linked to the Reserve Bank’s repo rate; the bank used a discretionary rate and therefore was entitled to charge these inflated interest rates at its discretion.

However, forensic auditor Greg Johnson analysed the internal memorandums sent by Saambou head office to their branches at the time of each change of the interest rate. In these memorandums, the branch managers were informed of the date when such a decrease or increase came into effect and the percentage of such an interest increase or decrease. He found that Saambou/FNB’s interest rates were indeed linked to the Reserve Bank repo rate.

Last, in the past Saambou raised and lowered its base/prime rate in sync with changes in the Reserve Bank’s repo rate – until Johann Myburgh was appointed CEO of Saambou in 1993 when, unannounced, it started unlawfully deviating from the repo rate in order to charge its clients a higher rate. The bank finally reverted to linking its rate changes to repo rate changes in 1999, when I referred the matter to the Registrar of the Usury Act. But the already inflated balances owing were left unchanged. FNB has had this information at its disposal for several years, but has nevertheless not corrected the accounts by removing the overcharges made in those years and then recalculating the correct due balances. On the contrary, it persists in going as far as suing clients to recover the illegally inflated amounts and having families expelled from the homes – even when, had their account been correctly calculated, they owe the bank not one cent.

As I write, the Landbank has just been found guilty of trying to pull the same trick on its clients – and ordered by the North Gauteng High Court to pay a group of farmers several millions in refunds. The judgment is likely to trigger a flood of claims against that bank.

FNB is next.

Emerald van Zyl

Welgemoed

Labyrinth of deceipt

Your disturbing story about rogue cops and a doctored dossier once again reminds me how journalists (in this case I refer of course to the Sunday Times) can get it horribly wrong.

Presently I am reading Charles van Onselen’s magnificent biography on Joseph Silver, The Fox and the Flies. Silver was a psychopath racketeer of note in the late 1800s and early 1900s who operated internationally but spent many years in South Africa, toxifying Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

What Van Onselen brings out so clearly is the world of “agents” who work in the spaces between high-flyer criminals and corrupt and not-so-corrupt police officers and who cleverly use and abuse the legal system, sometimes bamboozling judges and magistrates in the process. Silver himself was a past master at this, milking his police informer status to wipe out rivals and avoiding imprisonment by making deals and playing one side against the other in a hellish labyrinth of deceit that most journalists are incapable of understanding or researching properly.

When police pretend to be criminals and criminals pretend to be policemen, all hell usually breaks loose. It’s often impossible to tell the two sides apart. Corrupt and inept police officers, some of whom are likely to be mentally ill, eventually lose the plot and resolutely begin to believe their own lies.

Garth King
Fish Hoek

Taken for a ride

Last week was the first time I bought and read Noseweek. I am very impressed. Yours must be the only open, unbiased and principled publication around.

As for Lulu Tan Tan and Inge Peacock, we have first-hand experience. She still owes us R45 000 from four  years ago. In the meantime her business was liquidated – or was it? Because it is still trading but it is impossible to even contact her.

There must be hundreds of companies or individuals who have been taken for a ride by her over the years.

If there is anything we can contribute to put her behind bars or make her pay, let us know.

As for Stuttafords, no more shopping there either until they demonstrate any regrets and improvements in their purchasing.

Willi Wighard
Cape Town

■ Inge Peacock is something else! She seems to leave a trail of destruction wherever she goes. You have got to see her lifestyle, too: everything is six star, man! Sumptuous house in Valley Road, Hout Bay, with horses wandering about in the back garden – literally outside the back door.

Noel Pratten
Cape Town

Good riddance

Thumbs up and well done for exposing those Ebrahim Uncles. I am an ex-Oasis employee who lasted about two years and it was the worst two years of my life!  Keep the articles flowing, I’m loving it.

Habiba Sungay
Office manager, Randsure Insurance Brokers, Parow

New tunes, old scores

Open letter to attorneys Munnik, Basson, Dagama:

I have received much correspondence demanding, pleading for – and offering deals in respect of – a purported Standard Bank debt.

Despite having indicated I had no knowledge of the “debt” and that such a debt would have long since prescribed, I continue to be pestered. So, it is with interest that I read Noseweek’s, story, “Extortion by another name” (nose149).

    1. “Shady lawyers are at it again demanding debt payments that have prescribed”. Does this accurately reflect on MBD?

    2. “…didn’t have a clue what it (prescribed) meant…” Would this explain why MBD have continued to send me correspondence?

    3. “Please stop pestering me with this rubbish”. Has MBD understood that this is what I have really been asking all along?

    4. “…not to intimidate people into paying money they don’t owe…”. Does MBD truly subscribe to this notion?

I look forward to an end to this absurdity.

Hilton Webber

See The lawyer is an ass in this issue.Ed.

What’s cooking?

How I regret not bothering to read your publication until last year. When I did, I just could not wait for the next issue.

If anyone can get to the bottom of the shenanigans and double dealing in the halaal food industry it must be Noseweek with your sources and investigative expertise. Please help us Muslims to clear up the mess.

A K Mia
Marshalltown, Johannesburg

By the book

During the apartheid years I remember being able to slip in George Orwell’s brilliant political satire Animal Farm while teaching in the English department at the University of Zululand, and feeling the hard edge of subversion in doing so. I’m led to wonder: would there be a chance of doing it there, and at our other, rapidly collapsing universities now, when it seems as appropriate, or more so?

Jim Phelps
Fish Hoek

Not The End

I was taken aback by your claim (nose149) that the Sunday Times article about the Cato Manor Police Unit was the result of a ploy to manipulate the journalists and the publication. [Not so. It was to disable the investigation and prosecution of politically well-connected criminals and corrupt police officers.Ed.]

As a citizen concerned about the repeated flouting of the law by police and government security units, I follow news about police conduct closely. 

I was particularly perturbed by your implied suggestion that three of SA’s most highly regarded investigative journalists had been so naive.

But now I read in the Sunday Times that Noseweek didn’t even check with Sunday Times writers before making its claims.

For any publication to “cash in” on a major scoop of another publication  – a scoop of great benefit to the public, as the Cato Manor one is – it really needs to double-check its facts before casting doubts on the credibility of the original report. If Noseweek honestly failed to contact the writers,  I will stop reading Noseweek.

I’m not interested in any refund for the remainder of my online subscription.

Louise Cook
Kraaifontein

Naive isn’t the word I would have chosen. See Dirty Secret and KZN death squad in this issue for coverage of this continuing saga. – Ed.

Keywords: F N B Firstrand Saambou Bond Discrimination
Usuary Act
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Reader's comments

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Submitted by : Tony Von Loggenburg of Welgemoed on 2012-04-18 21:14:41
What is it with SABC and TV Licences. My son imigrated in October 2011. Shortly afterwards he was issued via an sms with a final demand for the 2012 licence plus recovery costs totalling R350.00. Despite many letters and emails and phone calls to the attorney appointed to recover the money providing proof that niether my son nor his TV are in South Africa we continue to receive sms's of demand, the final one stating that he has now been listed with Trace Alert. This is crazy, how much more money is going to be spent on a small debt that will nevcer be collected, don't these people read???
Tony V Logg

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