In a joint two-day operation the South African Police Service, the National Credit Regulator (NCR), South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have embarked on an operation aimed at clamping down on credit providers who are still hell-bent on employing illegal bullying tactics against vulnerable and unsuspecting consumers.
The operation dubbed “Project Blitzkrieg” primarily focuses on illegal credit providers who are unlawfully retaining pension cards, bank cards, identity documents and personal identity numbers (PIN) of their clients as surety.
As a start pension payout points in Zwide, Kwa Zakhele and Motherwell in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape were focused on. The second leg of the operation focused on a few credit providers’ premises in Motherwell, Zwide, North End Port Elizabeth and New Brighton West.
During the operation, a total of six  people known as ‘Skoppers’ were arrested. Police also found the suspects in possession of an accumulative number of over 60 pension cards, ID books and notebooks and 297 bank cards and pin numbers.
“This is certainly not the last of our operations in this regard,” says Jan Augustyn, manager for investigations & enforcement at the NCR. “Such operations will later be extended to other parts of the country, mainly in rural communities where we believe people are more vulnerable and easily exploited.
“Meanwhile the NCR’s education division will continue to educate consumers on their rights and obligations and provide advice on how to lodge complaints,” he adds.
SASSA has also advised consumers not to leave their pension cards with micro lenders as they will not get out of the debt cycle and will battle to get their grants if they do not have their pension cards. “If consumers in and around the mentioned areas have left their cards and documents with micro lenders, they are advised to contact the Directorate Priority Crimes Investigations: Eastern Cape immediately where their cards can be retrieved,” says Vuyolwethu Bukula, senior manager at SASSA, Eastern Cape Region.
The National Commissioner has praised the team for their efforts, citing crimes against women and children, particularly pensioners as one of the priorities of the SAPS. “The joint operational team will continue to arrest and prosecute these micro lenders who persist on exploiting vulnerable people,” says National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele.
“Since its inception, the National Credit Regulator has through complaints and enforcement action secured refunds to consumers of approximately R41-million depending on the nature/merits of the applicants’ case,” says Augustyn.