Cape Town - A Western Cape money lender who illegally kept borrowers' bank cards was fined R5000, or 18 months in jail, on Friday for violating the National Credit Act.
Paul Grey, 49, a father of five from Kalksteenfontein, appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town.
Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg fined him R10,000 or three years, half of which was suspended for five years, and another three years', suspended for five years. The hearing took the form of a plea bargain.
Defence attorney Edward McCullam told the court that Grey illegally took possession of borrowers' identity documents and bank cards, and that the interest charged on loans was left to Grey's discretion.
This meant clients did not know how much interest they had to pay on loans, and had no control over it either.
McCullam said Grey used the bank cards to enforce the repayment of loans.
He had run the money lending business from his home, from May to July.
Borrowers also had to provide Grey with their bank card pin numbers, to give him access to their bank accounts.
McCullam said Grey made a profit of R500 a week, but that his business had since been stopped.
Prosecutor Zama Matayi said Grey's failure to inform borrowers how much interest he was charging indicated an element of dishonesty.
He said money lenders, including Grey, also retained borrowers' SA Social Security Agency cards to ensure repayment of loans, and that there was an outcry from all corners of society about this practice.