The Credit Ombud, Nicky Lala-Mohan, says it seems there is still widespread abuse of the garnishee order system to deduct debt repayments from employees, despite a far-reaching Constitutional Court ruling almost two years ago tightening up the issuing of these orders.
In September 2016, the Constitutional Court confirmed a High Court ruling by Judge Siraj Desai that aspects of the enforcement of emolument attachment orders (EAOs, commonly but incorrectly referred to as garnishee orders) were unconstitutional.
An EAO is a court order that forces an employer to deduct an amount from an employee’s wages or salary to pay a third party, such as a creditor.
EAOs can now be granted only by a judge or a magistrate and must be granted in the court with jurisdiction in the area where the debtor resides or works. The debtor and the debtor’s employer must be given notice of the creditor’s intention to have the EAO issued, and the consumer has 10 days to oppose the order.
“When Judge Desai ruled that some EAOs were unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid, we all hoped that this could bring relief to the consumers who suffer from the abuse and exploitation of EAOs,” says Lala-Mohan. “Concourt Judge Raymond Zondo also ruled that the amount to be deducted needed to be appropriate and fair.”