In another twist involving the public protector’s office‚ the Minister of Co-operative Governance an.
"Repossessing customers' vehicles does not make any business sense. It is definitely the last thing Wesbank wants to consider," says George Nyabadsa.
His statement was in response to a Consumer Line article published three weeks ago.
Clients had complained that Wesbank would rather repossess cars than accept instalments they can afford until they are back on their feet.
The article also said some financial institutions continue to take advantage of customers who do not know the National Credit Act protects them and that they can save on legal costs if they surrendered their vehicles instead of having them repossessed.
Wesbank was identified as one such institution.
Last week the bank admitted that it is viewed as a repossession bank.
"We are not a repossession bank and we want to change that perception," Nyabadsa says.
He says they are sympathetic to consumers who are undergoing financial stress and have invited clients who have problems to approach them.
Lionel Moore, a paralegal agent at Wesbank's collection department, says: "There are legal and storage costs involved and we do not want to sell repossessed cars.
"Clients must be proactive and call us to make arrangements. They should not avoid their responsibilities." .
Nyabadsa says during the past five years Wesbank demanded 100 percent of the arrears amount, but at present it is willing to take up to 70 percent to accommodate a client.
He says three SMS reminders are sent out, which is followed up with a visit if clients ignore the messages for 20 days.
"The word repossess is an old term that does not want to die. We are looking at affordability," Moore says.
To prove their commitment, Wesbank released Lehlohonolo Tsoeu's car they had repossessed two weeks ago when he could not pay.
Tsoeu had paid off his vehicle but could not pay the ballooned amount, which is payable in full on the day he settles the vehicle.
He asked the bank to re-finance the ballooned amount. While waiting for the bank's decision, he paid R11 000.
"I faxed proof of payment and a letter of my commitment to pay this account," Tsoeu says.
"Surprisingly, Wesbank repossessed my car without telling me if my application was successful or not."
He has paid more than R200000 for his car but could not afford to pay the ballooned R36000.
Tsoeu's Nissan Hardbody 2.4 Double Cab was returned within 24 hours after Consumer Line intervened.
Tsoeu says: "Thanks very much. I collected my car and Wesbank agreed that I could pay the ballooned amount in instalments.
"You really helped me. Wesbank had already put my car up for auction."
Wesbank also refunded Mamosing Shalang R4393 for a Toyota Hilux he allegedly bought through them.
It later transpired that someone had fraudulently bought it by using his personal information allegedly taken from his employment file.
Shalang had complained about a debit order paid to SAU underwriters, an insurance company that claimed it had insured his new vehicle worth R183 000.
At the time SAU had taken two payments from his bank account without his knowledge, and SAU insisted they had spoken to him on his cellphone when he took the cover.
But Shalang does not have a cellphone.
SAU agreed to refund the four instalments within two months.
Geoff Temlett of SAU rightly speculated that there might have been fraudulent activity involved.
He said if Shalang did not buy the car, the issue was larger than just the insurance premiums going off.
Temlett said: "It means someone had financed the vehicle fraudulently and the client could be a victim of identity theft."
Shalang's employer, the Gauteng department of education, is trying to find out who had access to his personal file.
The information used included a copy of his salary advice, identity document and his bank details.
Departmental spokesman Nomsa Zwane says her head of department would like to interview Shalang before they can comment.