IT SEEMS not even her Struggle credentials can make Winnie Madikizela-Mandela immune to 419 scams..
Daniel Mokgopo claims that he has paid R201,174 since March 2008, but his creditors were only paid one or two instalments.
Mokgopo said that he responded to an advertisement which was placed by a debt review company called Debt-wise.
He said he owed school fees, three banks, a car dealership, Woolworths and Edgars a total of R180,000.
Mokgopo said he got further into debt while he going through a divorce because of legal fees.
He said he called a Debt-wise counsellor who promised to help him get the creditors off his back.
During the consultation, he was told that he could not apply for any more credit until his debt was paid. He was also told that he would be given a clearance certificate which would enable him to start afresh with a clean record, he said.
"With Debt-wise's intervention, I had enough money to pay my rent and other living expense until I received my next salary without any hassle," Mokgopo said.
He said his creditors stopped hounding him and he was pleased that he had approached Debt-wise.
"I had approached the company after spotting their advert in Sowetan's classified section and I was relieved that I had," Mokgopo said.
He said they told him he had taken a step in the right direction and assured him that they would get him back on track financially.
"But I am now in a worse situation than I was when I made payments on my own," Mokgopo said.
He earns R7,474 and Debt-wise debited R4,614 from his salary into their account to pay his debts, Mokgopo said.
He said his counsellor collected and distributed the money on his behalf and he trusted the company to act in his best interest.
"But I became suspicious in April last year when I received a letter telling me to attend a court proceeding regarding my debt."
Mokgopo said when he enquired with Debt-wise, he was told that the court wanted to confirm that he was under debt review.
In May 2011, he went to the magistrates court, but the Debt-wise counsellor advised him not to go in the court to listen to the proceedings, Mokgopo said.
"I found this strange because I had been asked to attend," he said.
Mokgopo said his misery began soon after that.
He found out that he still had the horrible credit record that he had tried to clear four years earlier
"My creditors are harassing me and Debt-wise is ignoring my calls," Mokgopo said.
His creditors have now threatened to take legal action against him and he fears that he is going to lose his possessions.
He said his dream of buying a house has been shattered.
Consumer Line spoke to Annelize Groenewald, a liaison officer at Debt-wise, who promised to investigate and comment. She had not done so at the time of printing despite being given five days to respond to Makgopo's claims.
Credit Ombuds Manie van Schalkwyk explained that consumers should always consult debt review companies who are registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR) when they cannot cope with their debt.
"Consumers should enlist the services of a debt counsellor who is a registered agent from a list provided by the NCR. It is vital that people deal with reputable and legitimate agents," he said. Consumers can call the National Credit Regulator on 0860 627 627 to check whether the debt counsellors they are dealing with are registered.
Van Schalkwyk said consumers who go under debt review must communicate regularly with their debt counsellor to know what exactly is going on. In this way, he said, consumers will know immediately when something goes wrong.
Mokgopo has now forwarded his complaint to the National Debt Mediation Association.
THE debt review process involves the following:
Call the NDMA on 0861-11-6362 and the DCASA on 0861-43-2272.