Loan sharks are now preying on pensioners who have to fork out exorbitant amounts of interest on their monthly repayments.
This was revealed yesterday by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for social welfare and population development Meshack Hadebe.
Hadebe said the loan sharks kept hundreds of the pensioners' pension grant cards and only released them on payout days.
He made this shocking discovery during an unannounced visit to the Emafusini pay point in Dannhauser.
He found that pensioner Fikile Mkhulisi had borrowed R500 from abomashonisa in 2004. But Mkhulisi was still paying the moneylenders R500 every month since he took the loan.
Hadebe said another pensioner took a R1000 loan in 2002 and he has been paying R650 every month since he borrowed the money.
"They accompany them when they are going to collect their grants to ensure that they are repaid," said Hadebe.
He said pensioners Alfred Shange and Ann Sithole were paying a funeral parlour through debit orders for policies they never took.
In another case, a pensioner died in December and was only buried in March because her particulars were withheld by a money-lending company.
Hadebe said his office was preparing legislation which would protect pensioners against loan sharks.
The MEC said some loan sharks were not registered and legal action would be taken against them.