Saambou debt comes to haunt former client

When Saambou Bank Ltd was liquidated, thousands of consumers were adversely affected.

When Saambou Bank Ltd was liquidated, thousands of consumers were adversely affected.

The hardest hit were those who thought liquidation absolved them from making further repayments.

Some ignored calls from debt collectors who were appointed to collect funds for Saambou. Their defiance has hit their pockets very hard.

They now have to pay their employers and attorneys collection, interest and legal fees.

Zithembiso Ngidi is one such consumer, whose repayment has multiplied. She took a loan of R15000 and stopped repaying when Saambou was liquidated.

Ngidi now has to repay R98000 apart from the amount repaid before Saambou was liquidated in 2002.

African Bank Investments Limited (ABIL) bought Saambou's personal loans book at R1,066billion in 2003 and later enlisted the services of attorneys to collect debts on their behalf.

Which explains why Ngidi has been served with an emolument attachment order to the tune of R28000 against her salary. She paid it in full, but her misery is far from ending, the bank's attorneys are claiming a further R55 000.

"Saambou's liquidation has cost us dearly. I did not know where to repay my debt. Many debt collectors surfaced after Saambou was administered by a curator, and I was particularly confused and ignored their calls," said Ngidi.

She was at all times willing to repay her loan, but did not know where and who was appointed to collect money for Saambou.

"Early this month, Smith and Smith Attorneys re-implemented the garnishee order and are now claiming R55000. Why should I be punished for Saambou's sins?" asked Ngidi.

Sonnette Botha of Abil's Consumer Advocates Office said they are willing to zero interest on the amount claimed with immediate effect. She said they will look at a further reduction of capital outstanding should Ngidi make regular payments for the next six months.

Botha said they empathise with Ngidi for having to repay so much.

"We are empathetic to Ngidi's situation having to repay a balance due to default," said Botha.

She said Ngidi did not pay her account regularly and did not respond when called to service it. Her account accrued interest and it was handed over to their attorneys.

"Judgment was obtained in October 2003, pursuant to Ngidi's signing a Section 58 Consent Judgment to the amount of R28031 with cost and interest to accrue at 20percent per annum," Botha said.

She said even though Ngidi paid R800 monthly since 2004, her employer had to take 5 percent of the instalment as collection commission before making payment to the attorneys, who are also entitled to fees and 10 percent collection commission plus VAT.

Botha said the bank had received R28000, but there was a balance of R27000 in May when Ngidi thought she had paid off the debt in May this year.