Barberton WhatsApp stokvel ends in tears

By Drum Digital
24 June 2016

Mpumalanga police are investigating a WhatsApp stokvel after hundreds of angry locals threatened to burn down the house of the scheme’s administrator.

“I will personally come and burn this house if I don’t get my money back,” one woman, who asked not to be named, told African Eye News Service.

Police confiscated stokvel registers from the administrator's house in Emjindini township following the attempted arson attack, Barberton police station commander, Colonel Sunbright Ndlovu told AENS on Thursday.

“We have referred all the information to our legal office to advise us which charges we must open. The books that we confiscated didn’t reveal much, except names of people and their contact numbers. It does not indicate how much each person deposited and where.”

Ndlovu said the angry locals surrounded the administrator's house on Sunday night, demanding their money back. Police were called and used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

The WhatsApp group, called My Community Stokvel 2, was started in April. People told AENS a woman named Sarah recruited them to join.

Many people said they invested, or “pledged”, between R1 000 and R40 000 each, believing they would get large returns.

"We don't even know her surname. I put R40 000 into this woman’s account, expecting to get interest on it by the end of the month,” said a woman who asked not to be identified.

“She personally invited me. Now she bought herself and her boyfriend a car. Her children are wearing Carvela shoes and she has built a nice wall for her house using our money.”

Nomcebo Khumalo said she lost her money after initially making a large profit.

“When I first joined, I pledged R1 000, which came back, plus an extra R9 000 in four weeks time.” This was a 900% return.

She then “pledged” another R7000, again expecting to receive a 900% return, or R70 000, by the end of May. She got nothing.

“All that money is gone now,” Khumalo said.


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