Lukas Oelofses statement

Johannesburg - January is a rough month financially. But for one Limpopo man, it was rougher than most when his car loan skyrocketed from about R300 000 to nearly R5 million.

Two years ago, Lukas Oelofse took out a R250 000 loan to buy a Nissan 350Z Roadster.

Last year, he went into debt counselling after falling into arrears trying to keep up with the R5 000 monthly instalments. He has been paying about R1 100 each month since then.

“It’s less than before but I’ll be paying that every month for the rest of my life,” said Oelofse.

Each month, the balance carried over was just less than R300 000.

But when Oelofse received his latest account statement from Absa two weeks ago, the amount was massively inflated: R4 993 638.70.

His 72-month loan term – with 44 months outstanding - multiplied nine times over to 287 months, while his interest rate rose from 12.45 percent to 15.5 percent.

He has tried contacting Absa for an explanation, but after an hour-and-a-half on hold, he was referred to the bank’s legal department.

Oelofse said he had tried to pursue the matter a few times, but gave up when he was always put on hold.

The Star submitted questions to Absa last week, asking for some explanation behind the jump in Oelofse’s account.

The bank responded: “Please note that we are unable to comment or divulge any specific information related to a client’s account, in the absence of the client’s consent, as this information is privileged and confidential.”

The New Economic Rights Alliance (NewERA), a non-profit organisation fighting for banking transparency, believes there may be a link between Oelofse’s involvement with the group and his inflated account.

In December, NewERA sought an urgent interdict to stop banks collecting on securitised loans, an application which the group lost in the Johannesburg High Court - with costs.

Shortly afterwards, Oelofse received his R5m statement.

Absa has dismissed this claim.

“The alliance seeks to have the high court ‘declare our money lending system fraudulent and unconstitutional’. This notion is absurd and is destined to fail. The alliance has not appointed a legal team to advise them,” it said.

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The Star