Regulator nails microlender

Isaac Moledi

Isaac Moledi

The National Credit Regulator has lived up to its promise to protect unsuspecting consumers against an unscrupulous microlender who charged them up to 240 percent interest on short-term loans.

In a landmark ruling the national consumer tribunal, a body set up to enforce the National Credit Act, has revoked Northern Cape microlender Frabert's licence as a registered financial provider.

The company, which trades through 11 Cashwise franchise branches in the province, was also found to be holding customers' bank and pension cards and their PIN codes as a method of debt collection.

Holding customers' bank or pension cards and PIN codes is outlawed by the act.

Jan Augustyn, NCR manager for investigations and prosecutions, said though the regulator issued the company with a compliance notice in January, Frabert failed to comply with the notice.

She said he didn't even show up at the default judgment when called on to do so.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Profile Bureau, South Africa's most comprehensive source of credit information, praised the NCA, saying it has to a large degree protected consumers from the credit crunch ravaging many consumers.

Managing director Fred Steffers says the fact that sellers were held liable for the amount of credit they granted to a borrower helped keep borrowers' indebtedness within reasonable limits.

He said one of the significant outcomes of the act was that debt judgments have dropped to an average of 20000 a month, from more than 60000 a few years ago.

"NCR regulations have made it much more difficult for providers to resolve difficulties with clients in court, significantly cutting the number of debt judgments."