Absa has made a squalid attempt to save face in the wake of Noseweek’s story (Nose167) about the way newly retired naval captain Teboho Molotsi – who’d been trying to clear his debts with his pension payout – was duped into accepting a rebate the bank later claimed was a re-advance on his old mortgage.
Defending the bank, Frank Mohale of Absa’s complaints division wrote to Molotsi and his debt counsellor Derry Burge, insinuating that Molotsi was responsible for the confusion over the nature of the R100,000 the bank gave him after he’d settled his bond in full.
Molotsi understood that it was an early settlement rebate – as had happened when he settled his car loan.
In a paragraph curiously prefaced “Without Prejudice”, Mohale claims that Molotsi, “does not state whether he told the manager assisting him about the rebate amount he says he received from the bank”. He continues: “It seems he [Molotsi] only went to the branch to inquire about the arrears amount after receiving a text message notifying him of same.” Absa seems to accuse Molotsi of some kind of misdeed or neglect. The logic that a client would go into a bank to question a demand for payment only when and if they receive such a demand, seems to escape Absa.
Mohale says: “…the funds were not withdrawn from the bond account at the same branch…” but Molotsi had at no stage suggested he’d withdrawn the full amount from “the same branch”.
The banks says: “An amount of R60,000 was withdrawn from Central Avenue Branch. [Agreed, that was paid towards his daughter’s student loan.] A second amount of R30,000 was withdrawn via an ATM Service in Pretoria [He disputes that – and besides, there is no ATM in the country that will dispense R30,000 in a single go.] and lastly an amount of R10,000 was withdrawn at the Moloto branch.”
Molotsi says Absa paid all three amounts directly into his Capitec “flexi” account – transactions reflected on his Capitec bank statements.
Mohale concluded his letter by confirming what Burge had already told Noseweek: “…the bank offered those home loan customers who are eligible the option to take funds from their ‘advance portions’. Before they could withdraw a lump sum from the bond, the relevant branch had to request the signature to verify such transaction.”
Unfortunately for Absa, their bank manager at the time, Elize van Jaarsveld, did not get Molotsi to sign any documents. And in the various sets of high court applications brought by the bank to repossess his house, there is no reference to “refinancing” – perhaps because, to prove their contention, they would have had to produce the signed refinancing document.
Instead, Absa implied that the amount claimed was simply a balance outstanding on the original bond of 1998. There is no provision in the National Credit Act for what Absa calls an “Advance portion”. A fresh loan requires a fresh affordability assessment.
As a pensioner, Molotsi would not have passed any credit checks permitting a fresh R100,000 loan.
Was Absa trying to circumvent the legislation?
In sworn affidavits, Absa officials Angelique Ryan (8 April 2010), Karien Slabbert (7 June 2010) and Petrus Jacobus Bosman (April 2011) all avoid mentioning the issue of re-financing. Ryan, who does not disclose her position at the bank, simply says: “I have access to the books and accounts relating to this matter and have perused such books and accounts.” Molotsi initially took out a mortgage in 15 July 1998: “…a written loan agreement contained within a mortgage bond…” She makes no mention that Molotsi had paid off the loan. She also makes no mention of rebate or refinance (advance option).
Ryan gives the impression in her affidavit that the amount being demanded by the bank stems from the 1998 advance: “Pursuant to the said agreements, the Applicant (Absa), duly advanced the said monies to the Respondent/s during July 1998…”
However Bosman’s affidavit confirms that Molotsi settled his entire home loan in November 24, 2008; “As a result of the payment… the account showed a credit balance… [of nil].”
Of course, for the bank to have any legitimate claim, it must produce any documents they have from Molotsi asking for additional funding. Bosman slithers past that one thus: “On 24 April 2009, the respondent [Molotsi] requested the applicant [Absa] to transfer R60,000 from his account…”
Really? Simple as that? Perhaps we should all try asking our banks to transfer a few thousand from that other account?
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