VBS mutual bank: Payments too little, too late, say victims
Pretoria - Life has been bleak for 38-year-old Susan Mudau, since she recommended to her burial society to invest R160 000 in the now defunct VBS mutual bank five years ago.
The mother of four, who comes from Sibasa near Thohoyandou in Limpopo, says she insisted that the joint burial society, consisting of vegetable traders plying their trade at a market in Sibasa, invest their savings in the bank because she had learnt that it was a lucrative investment with VBS. And the members obliged.
Little did they know that bank officials and politicians were brazenly looting the bank ‒ ultimately of R2.3 billion ‒ and included in that was the R160 000 the club had invested.
She says her ordeal started when they had their first death in March 2018, and three signatory members went to withdraw R8 000 from the bank, where they were told by a senior official that the money was not available because the bank did not have any money.
She said: “The rest of the members blame me for this. They say I knew when I convinced them that it would happen. Some of them have not spoken to me ever since, and I had to quit my trading stall to go to the bank to attempt to get the money back for the past three years.”
Fortunately, they were able to prove that they had invested in the VBS bank and were granted R100 000 by Nedbank.
She told the Pretoria News that despite getting some of the money back she has been unable to convince the members to let her back in, and she had been surviving by selling fruit around her neighbourhood to put food on the table for her children.
Last week the Pretoria News reported that Nedbank has been continuing to pay VBS victims a capped amount of up to R100 000 per depositor.
According to a VBS report issued by Advocate Terry Motau in 2018, the bank collapsed after the looting of the R2.3 billion that municipalities, societies and individuals had invested.
In March 2018, then minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene placed VBS under curatorship. This meant that management and the board were relieved of their powers and a curator took over the bank’s affairs.
Through curatorship, the SA Reserve Bank was given the legal means to create the necessary mechanisms to implement a resolution plan to stabilise and restore a bank.
Another victim, 59-year-old businessman Robert Livhoyi from Baobab in Makhado, said he had started saving money with VBS in 1987 when it started.
Although he could not say how much the bank owed him, he said he had invested a lot and the bank crippled his construction businesses.
“The R100 000 I have received from the bank has done nothing to help my businesses to stay afloat. I’m merely surviving. I can’t divulge how much money I had saved because it’s personal. But I received the R100 000 in 2019. I’m still owed a lot of money,” he said.
“I went through a difficult period during that time, but I had to stand up like a man and swallow the fact that I was not born with money. Anything happens in this life. Only God knows why it happens to people like us. It’s tough but I have to continue with my business.”
He said he was relieved now that Nedbank had come to the party, but hoped to get the rest of his money soon.
“There are poor people out there who deposited their pension money and lost it. Some have died and their families will never ever see that money again. There are many questions I ask myself, like what kind of government do we have that does not care about us?” asked the father of four.
“There are some leaders who were implicated in this and nothing is happening to them.”
He was referring to politicians, ANC leaders and municipal officials.
ANC treasurer Danny Msiza, and former ANC Youth League member Kabelo Matsepe, together with six others, appeared before the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Friday, and were all granted bail of between R50 000 to R100 000. The case was postponed to March 26.
Livhoyi complained that Nedbank had all the information and was able to reach out to people who have not yet claimed, but was doing nothing.
“In some cases people do not even know what Nedbank is or even know who to contact. Why do they go to the media and make a call to these people when they have the details?”
Nedbank Retail and Business Executive David Schegmaan said: “Nedbank has and continues to run extensive local awareness campaigns, engages the local press, and is using current contact information to make contact with former VBS clients. That said, Nedbank has been furnished with the information of the account holder only. If the account holder is deceased, the executor of the estate would need to approach the bank to access funds.”