An early hours swoop on ATMs led to the confiscation of thousands of South African Social Security Agency cards and the arrest of 11 alleged “predatory lenders”.
The operation‚ in Nigel‚ south of Johannesburg‚ took place on Tuesday just after social welfare grant recipients’ monthly payments had been transferred to their bank accounts.
National Credit Regulator spokesman Lebogang Selibi said it was carried out by staff from the NCR‚ Sassa and the police‚ and was aimed at “curbing fraud‚ money laundering and illegal retention of Sassa cards to enforce credit agreements”.
Criminal cases had been opened‚ he said‚ and the suspects were expected to appear in court on Thursday.
Jacqueline Peters‚ manager of the NCR investigations and enforcements department‚ said the operation was part of a crackdown on credit providers who unlawfully retain pension cards‚ bank cards‚ identity documents and personal identity numbers (PINs) of clients as surety.
“Retaining these cards is a contravention of the National Credit Act and it is a criminal offence‚” she said.
The regulator was determined to root out predatory lending practices‚ which usually involved reckless lending and overcharging. “The exploitation of vulnerable and unsuspecting consumers by credit providers will not be tolerated‚” said Peters
“We urge consumers who have handed their ID books and pension cards to go to the Nigel police station to collect their instruments.”
By DAVID CHAMBERS