Er­rant debt coun­sel­lor struck from NCR reg­is­ter

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD WEEKEND - NEESA MOOD­LEY-ISAACS

Debt coun­sel­lors who fail to com­ply with the Na­tional Credit Act (NCA) will be firmly dealt with, the Na­tional Credit Reg­u­la­tor (NCR) showed this week when it struck from the reg­is­ter an er­rant coun­sel­lor. Two other coun­sel­lors were placed un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Septem­ber.

Cape Town debt coun­sel­lor Zo­lile Se­nior Njok­weni’s regis­tra­tion with the NCR was can­celled with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.

Jan Au­gustyn, the man­ager of in­ves­ti­ga­tions and pros­e­cu­tions at the NCR, says an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Njok­weni’s prac­tices was pro­voked by sev­eral com­plaints from his clients.

“We take com­plaints about debt coun­sel­lors very se­ri­ously as they are the last re­sort for over-in­debted con­sumers who need help. Of­ten, when coun­sel­lors fail to do their jobs prop­erly, it is the con­sumers who suf­fer – when cred­i­tors take le­gal action against them. This is un­ac­cept­able,” he says.

An im­por­tant re­quire­ment of the NCA is that debt coun­sel­lors must have ac­cess to ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture to pro­vide a pro­fes­sional coun­selling ser­vice.

“Njok­weni op­er­ated from sev­eral tem­po­rary offices, in­clud­ing the par­lia­men­tary build­ings and his home, which made it dif­fi­cult for clients to con­tact him,” Au­gustyn says.

The NCR found that Njok­weni was not com­ply­ing with the law in that he had failed to:

No­tify credit providers and credit bu­reaus of debt coun­selling applications within five days of re­ceiv­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion; and

De­ter­mine whether con­sumers were over-in­debted within the re­quired 30-day pe­riod af­ter re­ceiv­ing their applications.

Njok­weni has been or­dered to hand over all his clients’ debt re­view files to the NCR and to re­fund clients any fees paid to him.

An­other two debt coun­sel­lors, Ralph Zulu of GNR and As­so­ci­ates in KwaZulu-Natal and Barry Kotze in Cen­tu­rion, are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­til March next year, when the Na­tional Con­sumer Tri­bunal will de­cide whether or not to can­cel their reg­is­tra­tions.

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