It’s 60-Days To FNB’s Discrimination Case In Equality Court

By Pinky Khoabane

IT’S hopefully the last stretch after years of waiting for justice for the plaintiffs in the class action case against First National Bank (FNB) scheduled to be heard in the Western Cape Equality Court on 6 August 2018.

“Hopefully”, because FNB has used every tactic in the book to stall this case. In the meantime, some of the complainants are now dead including Janet who together with her life partner, Emerald, went through thousands of bank statements to expose how these Black clients were allegedly ripped-off in interest rate charges.

According to Emerald van Zyl, details of which FNB is in possession and which will be presented at the Equality Court, Magdalena Pietersen 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. Van Zyl is the financial investigating consultant who, in 1998, discovered that Saambou was charging its clients interest in advance in contravention of the Usury Act.

So in effect, according to Van Zyl, the bank owes Pieterson money but she remains in debt. If Pietersen had come from a privileged background and  was white, she would have been charged less, the Van Zyls contend. 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.

Frans Mokomane who is co-ordinating the claims of the more than hundred clients in Kwa Mhlanga in Mpumalaga says they’ve been waiting for almost five years for FNB to do the right thing and pay back the money it fleeced off them in interest rates.

Mokomane and thousands other low cost housing clients who had initially taken-out bonds with Saambou, argue that they were charged higher interest rates than their white counterparts.

The law stipulates that you cannot increase the interest rate when in arrears and Pietersen’s case is due to plain discrimination. She couldn’t afford the inflated instalments.

First National Bank bought Saambou’s home loan book when the latter collapsed in 2002. Although FNB obtained the mortgage book of Saambou for R1 after the bank collapsed on 9 February 2002, it obtained the Low Cost Housing mortgage book by securitisation in 1998/1999. This was confirmed by the Curator of Saambou, Mr T.J. Louw, in his founding affidavit as follow: “On my date of appointment (9 Feb 2002) Saambou had directly or indirectly sold to other banks mortgage loans to a value of approximately R 2.6 billion, all of which are now held by FirstRand Bank Limited”.

Based on the statements of Low Cost Housing clients, it’s clear  that FNB started to administer the Low Cost mortgage book from 2 February 1998. The main discrimination started in February 1999 according to Van zyl. FNB was therefore been the proud owners of the Saambou mortgage book of Low Cost Housing when the discrimination started. It is therefore responsible for the discrimination and should refund every low cost housing client, because they collected the illegal interest Van Zyl contends.

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      1. i would like to know what is happening in the case up to now we are in the dark please ca any one update me. a

  1. After a five year delay by FNB, one wonders what trick they going to use not to come to court on 6 August this year.

    The latest re-calculation of the account of one of the complainants Magdalena Pietersen revealed that her bonds was paid fully up on 1 February 2013 if the bank did not discriminate with interest rates. Presently the bank owes her R88 928.90.

    The re-calculation of another complainant, Mr. Soon Boesak shows that the bank owes him R 101 018.82 in overcharges.

    The interest schedule of all three complainants submitted to the Equality Court shows that the maximum interest rate permitted by law was exceeded on the three complainants accounts for the following periods.

    1 November 2001 until 1 May 2002
    1 September 2004 until 1 March 2005
    12 June 2006 until 1 February 2007

    Exceeding the maximum interest rate permitted by law is a criminal offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding ten thousand rand or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

    1. Just amazing how the rich and powerful can stretch the law to its full limit. Let’s hope they will come to court this time and the judge will not allow their usual tactics.

  2. Molao ha o sebeletse bafutsana jwale ka barui. Mme Pinky le ka tlasa maemo a boima a ditshoso, Ke went feela ka hara mekgatlo “e meholo” ya diphatlalatso ya re behang leseding ka mehlaena ka taba ena e “Patuweng”

    Reya o leboha
    matshwale I Mosikili

    1. Ho leboha rona Matshwale ka honna o bala ditaba tse re diphatlalatsang mona. Ha re tsebe ho re bana ba ha FNB ba tla hlahella Equality Court lekgetlong lena.

      Ka diteboho


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