SAHRC to announce steps in garnishee order battle

2015-08-05 06:42
(Paul Herman, News24)

(Paul Herman, News24)

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Johannesburg – The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is on Wednesday expected to announce efforts to stop "unconstitutional" garnishee orders.

The Commission was a friend of the court in a class action case brought by the Stellenbosch University Legal Aid Clinic, on behalf of 12 farm workers, against law firm Flemix and Associates. The firm was acting on behalf of various micro-lenders.

In his judgment in the case on July 8, Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai ordered that Flemix’s conduct be reviewed by the Law Society for ethical breaches. He criticised lenders for their “perfunctory or non-existent” affordability checks on borrowers.

Desai said the debt collecting procedure used by micro-lenders was unconstitutional and “an assault on human dignity”.

“The judgment must result in timely legislative reform to correct this situation,” SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena said at the time.

The SAHRC has expressed concern about the effect these orders, also called emolument attachment orders, have on the poor and vulnerable.

The Magistrate’s Court Act sets out how these orders may be granted. They allow for a person’s salary to be attached should they be in arrears in paying a debt.

“These attachment orders can be done by a clerk of the magistrate’s court without the judicial oversight of a magistrate,” the commission said in a statement last year.

It has found that micro-lenders do not explain the implications of such orders to debtors and wants legislative reforms to close loopholes in the act to protect workers from abuse.

- Update: the event was cancelled on Wednesday morning.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  cape town

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