Ripped off by bankers

Nice scam South Africa's big commercial banks have going: you put money in your account but they decide who spends it - and charge you for the privilege.

Nice scam South Africa's big commercial banks have going: you put money in your account but they decide who spends it - and charge you for the privilege.

Ask Siphamandla Mdlalose. The crippled man from Soweto has been getting a government disability grant since 1991. Trouble is his account has been empty for the past three months.

His bank tells him some outfit has been debiting his account for the full sum.

He never asked the bank to pay out the money, they just did it.

Any account holder who has tried to cancel a debit order will know the problem. It's your money and your account but the bank won't take your instructions.

But they have no problem finding you when they slap charges and other fees on your account whenever they see fit.

There are many words for this kind of activity: fraud, theft and embezzlement come to mind. And any individual who tried to pull such a scam would be prosecuted and these words would be bandied about the courtroom.

Time has come to change the laws that protect bankers and to haul them into court for the rip-offs they pull with impunity every day.

We should start at the top with the bosses so they learn the lesson: dip into clients' funds and go to jail.

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