Usurer steals SASSA cards in Eastern Cape
- Police are investigating complaints that a loan shark in Mount Frere, Eastern Cape, stole SASSA cards and PINs from social grant recipients.
- Beneficiaries in two villages say they have been threatened at gunpoint and forced to change their cards and PIN codes.
- It is an offense under the National Credit Act for a lender to confiscate a borrower’s SASSA card.
Mount Frere Police are investigating a case of national credit law violation, after a pawnshop took the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) IDs and cards from several beneficiaries of social subsidies, sometimes at gunpoint.
Several social grant recipients in the Eastern Cape town, also known as KwaBhaca, were unable to get their money back this month.
Police spokesman Khaya Tonjeni confirmed that police are investigating but no arrests have been made.
This happened in the villages of Mabhobho and Emacwerheni.
On August 27, a 19-year-old girl from Mabhobho village told GroundUp, a pawnshop named Sesethu Booi, owner of Magongolo’s cash loans, entered her mother’s house with two gunmen. She said Booi demanded 21,000 rand. Booi claimed it was owed to him.
The girl said that in 2017, her mother borrowed 900 rand from Magongolo to pay her school fees. The agreement was that the mother would repay the loan at 50% interest, paying 450 Rand per month for three months, for a total of 1,350 Rand. But when her mother went to Magongolo’s office in Mount Frere to refund the money, the office was already closed.
Three years later, on August 26, Booi returned to claim his money.
GroundUp met the girl’s mother in Mabhobho village. She said the three broke into her room where she was taking a bath. “I saw a gun on one of the men, I just stood there not knowing what to do. I was so scared. They told me I owed 21,000 rand since 2017. ”
“I told them I didn’t have that amount. They asked for 5000 rand in cash but I didn’t get it.
The three had told her to get dressed and drove her in bakkie to the post office. There she was forced to change her SASSA card and obtain a new PIN code. The three then took his card and identity document.
Another woman from the village said she borrowed R500 from Magongolo in 2017. On the same day, August 27 of that year, Booi visited her and told her she owed R15,000. When she said she didn’t have the money, Booi told her to pay R2,000 so that she could write off the debt, the 66-year-old said. She paid 2,000 Rand with the money she received from her granddaughter.
Another woman said she borrowed 400 rand and was told her 2017 debt was now 23,000 rand. She settled the debt with 3,000 R.
GroundUp was notified of other victims in the village, but they were unwilling to speak. They filed a complaint with the police on August 31.
In the nearby village of Emacwerheni, a 72-year-old man told GroundUp he borrowed 1,200 rand from Magongolo in 2017, with a pledge to pay 600 rand for three months. “My grandson was going to university in Cape Town. He used the money for transportation, ”he said. But he hadn’t paid any of the installments because the Mount Frere Magongolo office had been closed without notice.
He was told on August 27 that he owed 40,000 rand.
“They pointed a gun at me, forcing me to come here to change my card,” he told the post office.
When GroundUp contacted Booi last week, she confirmed to be a lender but quickly dropped the call. Since then, calls have gone directly to voicemail.
National Credit Regulator spokesperson Ntombizodwa Mahlangu said: “Under the National Credit Act, any credit provider is prohibited from holding, using or relying on the SASSA card or the PIN code of an consumer for the purpose of collecting or executing a credit agreement.
She said she couldn’t find any trace of Magongolo on the NCR database of credit providers but would follow up on the case.
Mount Frere Post Office branch acting manager Thembakazi Dywili said the post office helped four people who came to report the case, blocking new SASSA cards.
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