Government worker sues money lenders
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.