The few marchers who heeded the call to march, led by police officers.
People have mixed feelings and reactions regarding recent marches by the Thulamela Business Forum and other stakeholders opposed to Nedbank’s servicing the accounts of former VBS clients.
The forum, which was mum at the start of the whole VBS saga, surprised all and sundry by emerging from nowhere to be at the forefront of the fight of the rights of VBS clients and also to fight for its survival. Their first march to Nedbank’s Thohoyandou branch was in July, when the group handed over their memorandum of grievances. The memorandum has since been ignored and no correspondence has been received from the bank.
A follow-up protest march, which turned out to be a near no-show with only a handful of supporters taking part, took place on Saturday morning. The marchers, numbering fewer than 20, had to endure the hurling of insults by angry members of the community while marching from VBS Thohoyandou to the Nedbank Thohoyandou branch at the Game Centre. The march, which was supposed to have started at 10:00, was delayed to 11:00 because of a lack of participation.
Before the march, some concerned members of the community had started questioning the actions of the forum. The forum was accused of being mum while VBS clients, more specifically the elderly, were sleeping at VBS’s doors to make the measly daily withdrawals they were allowed after the bank was put under the curatorship of the Reserve Bank.
VBS Mutual was put under administration after suffering some financial difficulties as a result of alleged maladministration and corruption amounting to more than R1,5 billion rand. Clients, mostly the elderly, had to sleep at the bank in order make withdrawals of not more than R1 000 per day. As a way to assist the clients, the curator appointed Nedbank to service the VBS clients.
This did not go down well with the Thulamela Business Forum, who joined hands with other structures, vowing to fight against this move.
During Saturday’s march, drama erupted at the Thohoyandou Game Centre entrance when angry community members confronted the handful of protestors. The protestors handed over the memorandum of their grievances to Nedbank officials at the centre. On their way to the centre, the protestors, who were singing songs in support of VBS, had to endure insults from angry community members who called them puppets, captured by the same greedy individuals who had milked the bank to its collapse.
The police had to intervene and restrain the other group.
Thulamela Business Forum chairperson Ntsieni Mbulungeni said they were deeply disturbed by Nedbank stealing business from VBS, which he said was a legacy of the people of Venda. He said Nedbank should return the VBS money that they failed to dispatch to the clients to the Reserve Bank and an alternative workable solution must be found that would not add to the frustration of the depositors.
The bank was also ordered to increase consultations that would include depositors and community stakeholders. “We demand that the profit made by Nedbank in this transaction be given to charity or community development projects. It cannot be right that Nedbank would see a business opportunity in the misfortune of our people,” he said.
The bank was given seven days to respond.
At the entrance to the shopping centre, a group of men gathered who wanted to disrupt the proceedings. A man who identified himself as Mr David Masala, apparently a client of VBS’s, said the group had been captured and were pushing the agenda of greedy individuals who had interests in the bank. “Where have all these people been when our people were sleeping at the door of the bank? It is clear that they are being used and sooner rather than later we will know who is funding them,” said the angry Masala.
Responding to the allegations of capture, Ntsieni said it had been their agenda all along to fight for local businesses. “You will recall that we fought against the removal of tenants at complexes around town. And here we continue to say VBS should not die as the legacy of the local people. We still demand that those found to have done wrong should be arrested and face the might of the law,” he said.
The memorandum was received by Adi Nathoo, who is Nedbank’s regional manager in Limpopo North.
Date:06 October 2018 - By: Elmon Tshikhudo
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and has since been a familiar name among the newspaper's readers.