Bheki Mashile's Letter from Umjindi

Monkey business. Law of the jungle

To start on a light note – though animal rights activists might not find it so amusing – a while back, readers may recall, I proudly erected a scarecrow in the fields of my farm. It worked like a charm in deterring the monkeys – but for no longer than an idiot’s moment. These little buggers are just too smart to be fooled by a non-moving human figure.

Scarecrow? What was I thinking? As far as I know we have no crows in this-here Mzansi. Anyway, I was advised to kill one of the cute little buggers and display its carcass for the rest of the troop to see. This, I was assured, would frighten them off for good, never to come back to this murderous farm again.

Yeah right! That worked for roughly three or four days before the troop was back and totally ignoring their dead comrade. Argh! this monkey business! (By the way, for the benefit of animal lovers and activists, I did not kill the poor little bugger – we had found him drowned in the irrigation dam. As much as I love these little guys, I could not help but say good riddance, vaya con Dios amigo!)   

Now, on several previous occasions I have written in this-here Nose about my battle with a firm of Barberton lawyers, Renier J Oelofsen Attorneys, and how they were ballooning my debt. This, I dare say is the real monkey business. At least the animals just take some of your passion fruits, tomatoes etc, while the legal vultures try to financially cripple you.

Well, the battle continues. At a 3 July court appearance my attorney got the debt collectors to agree to resubmit a “proper” accounting – in accordance with  directives in the Schedule of Particulars. This is a small victory. It remains to be seen what their proper accounting will entail: will they have slightly adjusted inflated costs or will they adhere to the justice department’s Schedule of Particulars and Parliament’s Debt Collectors Amendment Bill of 2016? I’ve posed the question before and ask it again: How do they get away with this?

One Noseweek reader wrote to the Editor explaining that the more you fight these debt-collecting sharks, the deeper they sink their teeth into us financially, tagging on more costs.

Well, it does not have to be that way. These guys can be fought off with a little research that will equip one with the appropriate information. I cannot stress this enough. Case in point: I educated myself on the tools I needed to defend myself – mainly the  Schedule of Particulars that I keep harping on about. Well, l pored over this crucial document again and again, then it hit me: on page 34, headed Annexure B, expenses and fees, it states clearly in bold letters, “The total amount to be recovered from the debtor in respect of items 1 to 7 of the annexure shall not exceed the capital amount of the debt or R870.00, whichever is the lesser”.

Surely it does not get clearer than that? It also clearly states what costs  the collector is permitted to add. It is crucial that the debtor scrutinises these carefully. They are supposed to be checked by the clerks of the court when one requests a court taxation. However, to assume they have done so is to throw yourself to the wolves. Recently one clerk even told me that they were not familiar with the Schedule of Particulars.

I urge all other debtors facing court action to empower themselves with the necessary information; read the relevant statute. If we know the law, we can educate the clerks of the courts who in turn can compel the courts to force  collectors to abide by directives in the Schedule of Particulars.

The costs these guys are supposed to charge are, for example, “necessary ordinary letter, registered letter, facsimile or email” should cost a mere R18.00 and not the R100-or-so these guys get away with.

How do they justify a debt that doubles? Mine went from R3,415.95 to a whopping R8,180.47.

It’s no longer about Bheki anymore, it’s about forcing the court to ensure these guys stop this, well, fraudulent behaviour.

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