Watch out for a repo frenzy

Written by Ciaran Ryan. Posted in Journalism

A blizzard of summonses has hit consumers who fell into arrears during lockdown. The advice from consumer advocates: defend these and tell your side of the story to the court. From Moneyweb.

Start paying whatever you can as soon as you can – judges view such attempts in a very positive light. Image: Shutterstock
Start paying whatever you can as soon as you can – judges view such attempts in a very positive light. Image: Shutterstock

There won’t be much Christmas cheer for thousands of South Africans who fell into arrears on their mortgages and vehicle payments through no fault of their own.

The banks extended a three-month repayment holiday at the start of the lockdown, but started cranking out the summonses as soon as it was over. Household incomes across the board have been hammered by the lockdowns and there’s little prospect of catching up on these arrears.

Government appears to have little concern for the plight of South Africans now at risk of losing their houses and cars.

It was disclosed in Transaction Capital’s recent year-end results that as at June 2020, 23% of vehicle and mortgage accounts were in arrears, as were 77% of unsecured lending accounts.

‘Humanitarian crisis’

“This is a humanitarian crisis and yet we continue like it’s business as usual, as if consumers fell into arrears out of their own neglect,” says King Sibiya, CEO of Lungelo Ditokelo Human Rights Foundation, which provides legal defence against unlawful evictions by the banks.

Sibiya says the foundation has seen a spike in attempts to repossess homes in the last few months.

“People have lost their jobs, or suffered a drop in income, and now they are supposed to be able to catch up on arrears or face eviction. Where is the justice in all this?”

Sibiya is lobbying to prevent any South African facing foreclosure from having their cases heard without legal representation.


Ciaran Ryan

The Writer's Room is a curated by Ciaran Ryan, who has written on South African affairs for Sunday Times, Mail & Guardian, Financial Mail, Finweek, Noseweek, The Daily Telegraph, Forbes, USA Today, Acts Online and Lewrockwell.com, among others. In between he manages a gold mining operation in Ghana, and previously worked in Congo. Most of his time is spent in the lovely city of Joburg.