Govern­ment worker sues money lenders

Lesotho Times - - News - Tefo Tefo

MIN­ISTRY of Fi­nance em­ployee ‘ Mal­ifelile Bu­sisiwe Ntoi is su­ing three money lend­ing com­pa­nies for al­legedly charg­ing her more than 25 per­cent in­ter­est rate on her loans with the com­pa­nies.

Ms Ntoi on filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion in the High Court 18 Au­gust seek­ing an or­der to stop elec­tronic de­duc­tions from her salary to Net­loans Le­sotho (Pty) Lim­ited.

She is su­ing Net­loans Le­sotho (Pty) Ltd, Thu­song Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices, Bless­ings Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices and Makhu­long Multi Fi­nance (Pty) Ltd, trad­ing as, Blue Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices for charg­ing her more than the 25 per­cent max­i­mum pre­scribed by the Money Lenders Act.

Other re­spon­dents are Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank, Post Bank, Ac­coun­tant Gen­eral, Na­tional Trea­sury, Cen­tral Bank of Le­sotho and the At­tor­ney-gen­eral Tšokolo Makhethe.

Ac­cord­ing to the court papers Ms Ntoi is seek­ing for “an or­der that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd re­spon­dents’ in­ci­den­tal charges, amount of costs or ex­penses claimed from ap­pli­cant be de­clared null and void and un­law­ful for con­tra­ven­ing sec­tion 20(2) of the Money Lenders Act.

“An or­der that declar­ing in­ter­est charged by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd re­spon­dents in re­spect of the loans granted to the ap­pli­cant and which is in ex­cess of 25 per­cent per an­num or cor­re­spond­ing time as null, void and un­law­ful.”

The first, sec­ond and third re­spon­dents are Net­loans Le­sotho (Pty) Ltd, Thu­song Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices and Bless­ings Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices re­spec­tively.

She fur­ther wants the court to de­clare that the Blue Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices “is not en­ti­tled to re­cover loaned money, charges in re­spect of ad­min­is­tra­tive fees, in­sur­ance and ini­ti­a­tion fee from ap­pli­cant in an much as the said charges are in con­flict with the terms of the Money Lenders Or­der No. 25 of 1989…”

In sup­port of her ap­pli­ca­tion she made a lengthy af­fi­davit that in­cludes back­ground de­tails of the per­sonal prob­lems that led her to ap­proach the money lenders for loan.

“It is nec­es­sary to in­di­cate at first blush that I per­son­ally had fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties and had been hos­pi­talised for a con­sid­er­able amount of time.

“I ended up con­clud­ing money lend­ing con­tracts with 1st to 3rd re­spon­dents in terms of which they bor­rowed me money,” she stated.

She added: “In my con­sid­ered view, in­evitable ef­fect of sec­tion 20 of the Money Lenders Act re­mains ex­tant to such an ex­tent that the in­ter­est exceeding 25% per an­num and the in­ter­est charged in re­spect of un­en­force­able costs, charges, fees and ex­penses is clearly in­valid.”

She al­leges that she con­cluded money lend­ing con­tract with Net­loans on 29 June 2013.

“The agree­ment records the to­tal debt of M40 000.00, re­payable over 36 months in 36 in­stal­ments of M2, 777.78,” she added.

Ms Ntoi fur­ther ar­gues: “Ac­cord­ing to my records, the month of Au­gust 2016 marks the end of my con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ship with the 1st re­spon­dent by op­er­a­tion of law.

“It is for this rea­son that I ap­ply for the in­ter­dict and re­pay­ment of the ex­ces­sive monies al­ready paid to my prej­u­dice.

“As I have no­ticed and com­plained to 1st re­spon­dent, I have long paid up my debt. I was served with the bal­ance of M69, 167.81 as at 1st of June 2016 when I de­manded my state­ment of ac­count.”

She fur­ther dis­closed that she takes home just over M400 home as a re­sult of de­duc­tions in re­spect of her loan.

“As at the moment, ac­cord­ing to my payslip and ow­ing to the ma­noeu­vres of the 1st to 3rd re­spon­dents, my take home salary is M424.42.

“I hardly sur­vive on this amount. I wish to record that when I ap­proached the 1st re­spon­dent for a loan, the idea was for it to make a set­tle­ment of my loans with 2nd and 3rd re­spon­dents which ac­tu­ally en­sued on the day of the trans­ac­tion,” she added.

“For the in­for­ma­tion of this honourable court, the money I phys­i­cally re­ceived out of M40, 000.00 I ap­plied for is M4, 381.80.

“This is be­cause af­ter set­tling Bless­ings with M5, 165.08 and Thu­song with M8, 608.12, I was in­formed that the debt I had with Edu Loan had res­ur­rected,” she al­leged.

The re­spon­dents have not yet an­swered to the al­le­ga­tions.

Yes­ter­day, High Court failed to hear ar­gu­ment on whether the case should be heard by the High Court sit­ting in its or­di­nary ju­ris­dic­tion or its com­mer­cial di­vi­sion. The fail­ure was due to power out­ages caused by main­te­nance work by the Le­sotho Elec­tric­ity Com­pany (LEC) in the area.

The re­spon­dents ar­gue that the ap­pli­ca­tion should be heard by the Com­mer­cial Di­vi­sion of the High Court not the High Court sit­ting in its or­di­nary ju­ris­dic­tion.

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