Category: South Africa

New property owners not liable for old debt, court rules

Municipalities cannot hold a new property owner liable for a previous owner’s historical municipal debt, the Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday.

The precedent-setting ruling gives relief to home and business owners, who have been saddled with years of historical municipal debt – as long as 20 years – and have been denied municipal services until the debt had been paid. The outstanding debt relates to water, electricity, rates and taxes associated to a property.

In a ruling majority written by Justice Edwin Cameron, the court found that upon transfer of a property, a new owner is not liable for old municipal debt. The court upheld a ruling by the high court in Pretoria in November last year – mainly that the liability of the old municipal debt rests with the previous owner.

Suid Afrikaanse Bankbase vir miljoene gedagvaar

Mnr. Piet Liebenberg, voorheen voorsitter van Die Sakebank en mnr. Willem Boshoff, voorheen uitvoerende hoof van die bank, is die afgelope week in twee hofgedinge weens die beweerde bedrieglike of roekelose hantering van sake by Die Sakebank gedagvaar.

Die eise deur twee PSG-filiale, Axiam en Capitec, bedra R147 miljoen plus rente.

Verdere dagvaardings teen bekende sakelui, wat ook na bewering betrokke was, word nog voorberei.

Liebenberg en Boshoff het Die Sakebank op die been gebring met die slagspreuk “goeie etiek is goeie sake”.

Toe die bank in 1998 genoteer is, was daar ‘n stormloop om sy aandele te bekom, glo vanweë Liebenberg se groot aansien onder beleggers.

Liebenberg is ook ‘n bekende in kerkkringe en het in 1999 op die nasionale kerkeberaad gesê sakeleiers het “Bill Clintons” geword deur weg te draai van die basiese waardes van die Bybel .

Die Sakebank het vir die jaar tot einde Maart 1999 ‘n wins van R45 miljoen getoon met aandeelhouersgeld van R474 miljoen.

Die PSG-groep het Die Sakebank in 2000 oorgeneem. Kort daarná is bevind dat die sake van Die Sakebank “chaoties” was. Pleks daarvan dat die verwagte netto batewaarde R150 miljoen bedra het, was die maatskappy niks werd nie.

Die aandeelprys was in dié stadium 5c teenoor sy hoogtepunt van R17,00.

Mnr. Alec Erwin, minister van handel en nywerheid, het mnre. Mervyn King en Harvey Wainer verlede jaar opdrag gegee om ondersoek in te stel na verskeie moontlike ongerymdhede by Die Sakebank wat tot sy mislukking kon gelei het. Destyds is gesê daar sal na die finansiering van aandele-opsies vir direkteure en Die Sakebank se betrokkenheid by die mislukte Macmed gekyk word. Ander mense wat destyds in verband met die ondersoek genoem is, sluit in mnr. Desmond Smith, gewese uitvoerende hoof van Sanlam en waarnemende voorsitter van Die Sakebank se ouditkomitee, asook ‘n lid van sy vergoedingskomitee, en dr. Malesela Motlatla en mnr. Leonard Fine, albei lede van die oudit- en vergoedingskomitee.

‘n Verslag is voltooi, maar dit is nog nie bekend gemaak nie.

Die Sakebank is sedert 1998 tot TBBH, Axiam en toe Capitec Bank herdoop.

In die eerste saak teen Liebenberg en Boshoff beweer Axiam dat Liebenberg en Boshoff in 1998 en 1999 hul pligte wederregtelik verontagsaam het deur lenings van R60 miljoen aan mnr. Jan Louw toe te staan. Die lenings is na bewering nie terugbetaal nie.

Louw was die stigter en baas van ProEquity, ‘n batebestuurder, wat betrokke was by die aanvanklike mislukte hotelprojek by Oudekraal in die Kaap.
Die Sakebank het ProEquity oorgeneem en Louw het ‘n direkteur van Die Sakebank geword. Sedertdien is ‘n vonnis van R160 miljoen teen Louw verkry.

In die tweede saak beweer Capitec dat Liebenberg en Boshoff, as direkteure van Capitec Bank, in 1999 bedrieglik of roekeloos opgetree het deurdat hulle toegelaat het dat sekere aandele as sekuriteit vir ‘n gerief van R50 miljoen van Absa Bank dien, wetende dat dié aandele onderhewig was aan ‘n ooreenkoms wat dit verbied.

Capitec beweer dat mnr. Richard Foyn, ‘n direkteur van Capitec Bank, die gerief met Absa beding en die aandele aan Absa oorgedra het. Foyn is ook ‘n verweerder in die tweede saak.

Voordat hy Die Sakebank gestig het, het Liebenberg verskeie poste in die bankwese beklee.

SA Banks struggling to deal with distressed Property Owners

distressed Property Owners
distressed Property Owners

According to South Africa National Credit Regulator’s latest Consumer Credit Market report, about 75,000 property owners were in arrears on mortgage repayments (for more than three months) in June.

SA’s big banks are taking longer to deal with home loan defaulters even though they are continuing to reduce their nonperforming home loan books from 2009-10 peaks, say industry players.

Standard Bank home loan head Steven Barker said last week that although the bank’s percentage of nonperforming loans fell from 6.2% to 4.9% of total advances in the year to June, the reduction rate has not been as rapid as hoped. He said it could become more difficult to deal with distressed clients who have not yet been worked out of the system.

“We are finding it quite challenging to manage the remainder of our nonperforming loan book as most (cases) are legal matters that have gone the sequestration or repossession route and are taking longer to settle than we had hoped.”

Mr Barker believes it could take at least another two to three years to get rid of SA’s overhang of distressed properties, given the worrying state of consumers’ financial positions.

According to the National Credit Regulator’s latest Consumer Credit Market report, about 75,000 homeowners were in arrears on mortgage repayments (for more than three months) in June. These defaulters’ mortgage debt totalled R41bn, about 5.2% of total home loan advances of R799.41bn. Figures released by the individual banks for their June financial reporting periods confirm a default level of 4%-6%. That is a marked improvement on the 10%plus reported by banks in 2010 but still around double pre-crisis levels.

Standard Bank’s research indicates that sales volumes are about 33% down on 2006-07 levels.

“This could well be the new normal for the South African housing market, something the industry will have to adjust to,” Mr Barker said.

First National Bank (FNB) Home Loans CEO Jan Kleynhans expects the bank’s 21% rate of reduction of nonperforming loans in the 12 months to June to continue for the next year.

He concedes that a slowdown is likely thereafter, as the remainder of loans — mostly debt-counselling and insolvency matters — are likely to take longer to work out of the system due to the legal processes involved.

Mr Kleynhans said that it would probably take 18-24 months for FNB’s nonperforming loan book to return to normalised levels of about 2%-3%. However, he said demand for residential property was unlikely to improve in the near term, given SA’s fairly low economic growth rate and “persistent and relatively high” household debt levels, which were constraining the ability of consumers to take on new mortgage debt.

Property economists are equally bearish about house price growth. Absa senior housing analyst Jacques du Toit and FNB property strategist John Loos said they expected a slowdown in growth in the next 12 months. Absa recorded an 8.5% rise in house prices in September year on year, down from about 11% in the first half of this year.

Mr du Toit expected house prices to rise by an average 9% for the year, slowing to 6% next year.

Mr Loos expected house prices to achieve an average 6.5% growth this year and 5.7% next year, down from 7.3% last year.

Auction Alliance Scandal

Robin Hood to the rescue!

A whole lot has been written about Rael Levitt the embattled CEO of now disgraced company Auction Alliance. The whole scandal erupted after a complaint was lodged by billionaire businesswoman Wendy Appelbaum with the Consumer Complaints commission. Stories have appeared in both the mainstream and financial press. Levitt stepped down as CEO which has added further fuel to the fires that are raging around both the auction industries and financial and legal professions. It seems that this would be a battle of Goliath versus  Goliath and would not have any impact on the man in the street. Not so however.

It’s a veritable can of worms that has left many people all the way down this particular food chain feeling very uncomfortable and nervous. Who wouldn’t be with SARS and various other bodies all rallying around to uncover the truth? It’s the stuff of good gangster movies and who knows, perhaps a movie in the making. Most people would simply shrug and walk away because they feel they have no recourse against  this issue and trying to get their story heard let alone justice being served.

Click here to read more.

Turning the wheels of Justice

It would seem that the wheels of Justice do eventually turn albeit very slowly in South Africa. And, just how slowly seem to be the case when Elsie Gundwana found herself on the wrong side a case against her by Nedbank and Steko Development. Simply put, this woman was in the process of losing her home due to a sale in execution.

The problems started as far back as 2003 when the first judgment was passed against her. She then paid monies over to the bank and continued to pay irregularly over the next few years and was under the assumption that the matter had been resolved. It was only in 2007 that Ms Gundwana found to her horror that the sale in execution was indeed to take place.

After a further payment to the bank Ms Gundwana once again assumed that the matter was under control. In August the property was sold in execution to Steko Development and she continued to live on the property. It was only after an eviction order was granted that all these irregularities came to light. Through all the various hearings it was proven that her constitutional rights had also been trampled on by the courts through a lack of information and correct procedures.

After a series of appeals by all parties concerned the matter the judgment against Ms Gundwana will be rescinded. Ms Gundwana has been fortunate to have this decision changed and ruled in her favor but sadly many others have not been so lucky.

What has been uncovered during this is a veritable nightmare that consumers should be made aware of. Through an intervention by Consumer Guardian Services, a company that specializes in helping consumers through the tangle of legalities involved with sales in execution, it has also come to light that Ms Gundwana has been overcharged quite dramatically by the bank.

Apart from all of this, it has also come to light that there are a huge number of corrupt sheriffs who are appointed by the banks to execute the auctions on these properties. It would seem that the sheriffs are involved with crime syndicates to purchase these properties for knock down prices – some as low as 30% of the real value of said properties.

This practice was exposed by Noseweek in an article published in December last year. At last the Board of Sheriffs has been shaken out of its slumber and is now taking action against this odious practice. It is extremely sad that the plight of a poor woman is what it takes for the wheels of justice to finally turn but the hope is that by exposing banks that overcharge and rooting out corrupt sheriffs these same wheels will turn a bit faster in the future.

High Noon for rotten sheriffs

South Africans have lost billions through corrupt auctions – but now detectives are ready to pounce on the guilty.

For decades the authorities have turned a blind eye to fraud and corruption in sheriffs’ offices, particularly in the area of sales in execution. But last month, in the first of a series of country-wide raids, police and SARS swooped on six sheriffs’ premises in the greater Durban area.

You ask why, well, their hands were forced.

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