National Credit Regulator has not shut down Ukuvuya
Money lender Ukuvuya Financial Services is still operating in the East London city centre, in spite of having been declared illegal by the National Credit Regulator.
The first week of every month, hundreds of elderly people queue outside Ukuvuya's offices.
Yet, according to National Credit Regulator spokesperson Lebogang Selibi, Ukuvuya is not allowed to offer loans.
She told GroundUp a month ago that the company had been registered with the NCR, but that the registration had lapsed because Ukuvuya had not paid registration fees, and as a result, the company was operating illegally.
Ukuvuya offers pensioners who are first-time customers a R1,500 loan, to be repaid in four monthly instalments of either R418 or R567. But clients say the company makes double deductions and when they complain, instead of getting refunds, they are advised to borrow more money from the money lender.
When GroundUp went to check on Wednesday whether the company had been closed down by the NCR, it was still operating. A security guard refused to let the reporter in, saying Ukuvuya did not lend money to young people, only to the elderly.
When GroundUp telephoned, we were told to contact Derick Siborne who is Ukuvuya's manager based in Port Elizabeth.
"As far as I know the company is registered," said Siborne. "We have a certificate from the National Credit Regulator."
He said Ukuvuya had been owned by someone else and had been taken over by a new company which had registered it. He did not give further details, referring GroundUp to the owner, Shaun Walton-Smith.
Walton-Smith said his company was "100% registered" but under a different name: Fast Cash Trust. He said two branches operated under that name.
"I do not know where the National Credit Regulator gets the information that we are not registered, because we are," said Walton-Smith.
But the NCR's Rishana Singh told GroundUp that Fast Cash Trust is not registered.
GroundUp asked Walton-Smith why he only targeted recipients of the SA Social Services Agency (SASSA) old age pension.
"What I'm doing is not illegal," he said. "The money we are deducting does not belong to SASSA. Beneficiaries have a right to do what they want with their money."