Date:08 December 2016 - By: Ndivhuwo Musetha
Customers who bank with the Venda Building Society (VBS) got the scare of their lives when the bank failed to pay its customers money they wanted to withdraw from last Friday to Monday morning.
The customers, the majority of them stokvel women, were frustrated when the bank’s branches in Thohoyandou and Sibasa failed to give them the money they wanted to withdraw. The majority were investing money with the bank for the whole year, so that they can share it now for their festive seasons' needs.
When our reporter arrived at the bank on Saturday afternoon, some of the frustrated customers were sleeping on the floor, while some were just sitting on the ground with sad faces. Others were leaning against the walls, hoping for a "miracle" to happen. On the bank's ATMs were 'Out of Order' notices.
Some of the customers who poured their hearts out to our reporter said they had no hope that they would ever get their money. "I am part of the stokvel from Lwamondo. Like we did in previous years, we have been investing money on a monthly basis, so that we can share it now for our individual needs. As a teacher, I had to ask for permission to come here and sign for this money to be released on Friday, because I am one of the signatories.”
One of the customers who wanted to withdraw R100 000 added that when they had arrived there, they were told that the bank did not have money. Another customer, who is also part of the stokvel, said she had been coming to the bank since Friday, with no luck.
"At the beginning, no one wanted to come out with a clear answer. When we came on Friday, we were told that there was a problem with the system and we must come back on Saturday. Many of us became suspicious when we were told conflicting stories on Saturday. After pushing for real answers, some of the tellers then whispered that the bank did not have money.”
A customer who was sitting on the floor outside the bank said she did not have the energy to go back home with no money, because her family was expecting her to come back with groceries and cash. "This is unbelievable. I can't believe that we have lost all our savings for the whole year."
By that time, no one from the bank was prepared to give a comment. When Limpopo Mirror left the bank at around 14:00 on Saturday, some of the customers begged our team to come back again on Monday, the day they were promised to get their money. When the bank opened on Monday, the situation was still the same until around 11:00, when customers were able to withdraw small amounts. Smiles started coming back to customers' faces when they were allowed to withdraw any amount at around midday.
A person who gave comment to Phalaphala FM on Wednesday afternoon said the reason for the delay for people to get their money was that the bank was still waiting for the money they had ordered. Asked why it took two days for the money to arrive at the bank, the officer said it was confidential.
VBS was in the news recently when it gave President Jacob Zuma a loan of R8,9 million.