Municipality deals with loan sharks

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The Dannhauser municipality in northern KwaZulu-Natal has launched a campaign to crack down on fraudsters who prey on pensioners.

This follows numerous complaints from pensioners that they were allegedly being robbed blind by Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) officials who have turned into loan sharks and bogus funeral cover policy agents.

Recently pensioners pleaded with local social welfare and population development MEC Meshack Hadebe to crack down on all fraudulent activities at pension pay-points in the municipality.

Pensioners fall prey to loan sharks who lend them small amounts of cash in times of need . The money is then deducted from the unsuspecting pensioners in monthly instalments, sometimes four times more than what they borrowed. Pensioners also said they were victims of some funeral companies who allegedly deducted a monthly amount from their benefits meant for the so-called funeral cover, which in some cases, did not even exist.

On Tuesday two councillors paid a surprise visit to some of the most affected pay-points. These include Kielkiel, KwaShongwe, Annadale and Ntembeka. Vulani Motha, head of community service at the municipality, said the municipality had decided to help Hadebe investigate the matter.

"We are accompanied by the police to these pay-stations. We will after our visit embark on a strategy to support Hadebe's efforts to get rid of all pension committees because they are responsible for perpetuating corruption.

"We will also remove all loan sharks and funeral companies who do business at the pay- points," he said.

Pensioner Thembela Mkhwanazi, 71, said she relied on her old-age grant to feed her ten orphaned grandchildren.

"I cannot afford all the food anymore because I end up going home with less money since most of it goes towards the funeral policy I don't even know about. I hope the councillors will stop these people."

Mkhwanazi said pension committee members were allegedly to blame for giving their details to the so-called funeral cover firms.

"We have asked the MEC to remove CPS officials who have turned into loan sharks and all the funeral policy companies. They force us to pay exorbitant fees but fail to bury our dead."