By Pinky Khoabane
Jacques Celliers – FNB CEO
THERE’S no other way of describing the corruption, moral and otherwise, of what has happened to people like Magdalena Pietersen who has paid First National Bank (FNB) way more than she owed. She took out a home loan for R61,000 in July 1995, and her account went into credit in February 2013, but she still owes the bank R79,278.77.
The latest calculation on her bond by Emerald Van Zyl shows she has been overcharged by R209,772.68 on interest rate charges because she’s black and poor. Van Zyl is the financial consultant who now represents Pietersen and two others in a class action lawsuit against FNB which will be held in the Western Cape Equality Court in November. Even then she had to beg the bank for the bank statements from 2014 when Van Zyl last evaluated her account. And the bank refused. She then had to look for all the statements since then.
So in effect the bank owes her money but she remains in debt. If Pietersen had come from a privileged background and her Pietersen was of pure white breed, she would have been charged less. She would have been saved hundreds of thousands in interest rates. She would have been saved the numerous harassments and threats from the bank to repossess her house.
By 30 June 2003, Pietersen was paying 4% higher than white bond holders due to the discriminatory practices of the bank. By 31 January 2014, her debt was R96 173,02 instead of being in credit for R14 176,05 according to a calculation by Van Zyl. “The difference of R108 349.07 represents the total damages suffered by the Complainant as a result of the unfair discrimination,” her declaration in the Equality Court says.
Despite having effectively paid-off her house and the bank owing her money, FNB had no mercy when Pietersen fell into arrears. In an interview with UnCensored she said she had prayed often, asking God to assist her. She lived with her son and two brothers; one of them had cancer and the other was on a wheelchair. They have since died.
The law stipulates that you cannot increase the interest rate when in arrears and her case is due to plain discrimination. She couldn’t afford the inflated instalments. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/blacks-ripped-off-fnb-will-finally-get-say-court/