In the second part of our legal advice series, Legal Aid SA helps readers tackle a corrupt cop, a maintenance dodger and harassment by debt collectors.
Q: What can I do with a detective who put so much fear into me because my son was arrested? He intimidated me by taking me to an area where gangsters stay and told me the gangsters in Pollsmoor Prison want money to keep my son safe, and they might come to my house. The detective wanted money. I gave him R8000 and then, two weeks later, R12000. Please let me know what I can do.
A: The conduct of the detective amounts to corruption. The client can lay a charge at the police station for extortion and fraud. Report the conduct of the detective to the station commander of the police station.
If the client is not satisfied with the outcome from these actions, you can report the conduct of the detective to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). Their mission is to conduct independent, impartial and quality investigations of identified criminal offences allegedly committed by members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and to make appropriate recommendations in line with the Ipid Act, whilst maintaining the highest standard of integrity and excellence. Ipid will investigate the complaint, institute action and take the necessary legal action against the detective. Corruption Watch can also be involved.
Q: In March 2012, my employment at a large clothing retailer was terminated. I had an in-store, credit card and personal loan debt of over R20 000. As I had no income after my termination, I was unable to pay off this debt, or even do a basic arrangement with their debt collectors. A judgment was issued against my name. I struggle to find formal employment; some employment agencies even regard this judgment as being in the same category as a criminal record. The retailer’s debt-collection agency harasses me daily, sending SMSes threatening me with the sheriff of the court. I would like to be employed and pay off my debt, but their judgment is a hurdle. Please advise.
A: Firstly, a default judgment listed on ITC is not the same as a criminal record. The National Credit Regulator protects the rights of clients. The client here does acknowledge that the debt is owing and does not seem to dispute that a default judgment was obtained against them. The client needs to make repayment arrangements with the creditors. As soon as the debt has been settled, the creditors will provide the client with a consent to rescind the default judgment. The client can report the conduct of the debt collectors to the Council for Debt Collectors (CFDC).
Q: TheCommunitySchemes OmbudServices(CSOS)Act was promulgated in 2011 with
R40 million seed funding from the government to set up their offices. Government said it should be self-funded. Since October 2016, CSOS has decreed that all residents of shared blocks pay a proportional amount to CSOS to be included in their monthly levy. I find this procedure totally unconstitutional. There are many ombuds for numerous organisations throughout the country that the general public is not required to subscribe to. I am now obligated to fund an organisation I do not need or have asked for.
A: The affected person must challenge the legality of this directive in the High Court against both the body corporate and the ombud.
Q: On February 12 2010, our brother was taken to court by Makgobistad police. He was supposed to appear at Mmabatho Magistrate’s Court for the crime he was accused of. He was found not guilty by the court and the police took him back home, but on the way, the police car was involved in an accident. Two guys died and our brother was admitted to hospital. But he died two months later. When we reported this to the police, they said they would help with the funeral, but they never did. We approached the police about accessing the Road Accident Fund and they said they were busy with our case (122/02/2010), but to date nothing has happened.
A: The claim against the RAF is not dependent on the outcome of the investigation by the police. The claim is supposed to be lodged within three years of the date of the incident, therefore it has run out of time (prescribed). There is also no legal duty on the police to pay for the funeral expenses. The deceased was not in lawful police custody as he was acquitted in court and voluntarily received a lift in a police vehicle.
Q: I had a bond on my house at FNB for years. When the bond was paid up, I asked for my contract, they said they haven’t got one, “and that is it”. Please assist.
A: It appears that the client did not ask for the correct document at the bank – the client should have requested the original title deed. The bank would then advise the client to approach a lawyer to assist with the cancellation of the bond against payment of certain fees. The bank will then release the title deed to the custody of the attorney, who will in turn give it to the client.
Q: I am having endless problems with the father of my four children, aged 7, 13, 15 and 16, who all attend school. He refuses to pay me my maintenance which was a court order. He has excuses upon excuses when we appear in court. Which is lies upon lies, and he gets away with it. I would appreciate your assistance on this matter. My children and I are suffering.
A: The client can apply to court that a warrant be issued for the execution against property of the father, for arrears in maintenance.
The client can further apply to court for an attachment of emoluments, which means that the monthly maintenance will be deducted directly from his salary and paid to the client. The man will have to appear in the criminal court, because he was in contempt of a court order, and make arrangements to pay the maintenance that is in arrears.
The client can also report the maintenance officers to the court manager for their failure to do their work properly.
For more information call Legal Aid SA’s toll-free number 0800 110 110, weekdays from 7am to 7pm, or visit www.legal-aid.co.za