LPC not behind Capitec’s frozen accounts | Lowvelder (2024)

Eight weeks after William and Bronwyn Findlay’s accounts were frozen by Capitec Bank, the couple remains in the dark about the details of this incident.

The only thing they know is that suspended Malalane attorney, Zietta Janse van Rensburg, is central to their misfortune. The Findlays’ accounts were frozen on May 1. When they approached the bank on May 2, they were told that payments from Janse van Rensburg were being questioned, and they were requested to make affidavits to explain why they had received money from her.

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A total of R365 000 was received in instalments as advances for a property deal orchestrated by Janse van Rensburg, in which the Findlays believed their property had been sold to the Department of Human Settlements. The department has denied the authenticity of all the documentation used in this transaction. When the Legal Practice Council (LPC) lodged an application to suspend Janse van Rensburg’s licence, the Findlays became concerned and raised questions about the transaction. Janse van Rensburg assured them all was well.

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Capitec reacted in a media statement as follows: “At Capitec, we are committed to treating all our clients with fairness and equality, in line with our statutory and common law obligations. Recently, a hold was placed on the accounts of Mr and Mrs Findlay due to concerns over potentially fraudulent activities associated with these accounts.”

LPC not behind Capitec’s frozen accounts | Lowvelder (1)

The bank stated that based on the affidavit received on May 2, the funds in question were not legally due to William and originated from fraudulent activities.

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Furthermore, there were transfers from his account to his wife’s account, which raised additional ‘concerns’.

“We wish to clarify that the accounts of Mr and Mrs Findlay have not been closed; a hold has been placed to prevent the withdrawal of funds. The affidavit submitted by Mr Findlay provides substantial evidence that the accounts were utilised for unlawful purposes, specifically receiving and transferring funds connected to fraudulent transactions.”

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Lowvelder asked Capitec to clarify why the accounts were frozen on Wednesday May 1, yet in the statement, it mentions that its action was based on the affidavit provided by William on Thursday May 2.

Werksmans Attorneys, which acts on behalf of Capitec, had not acknowledged receipt of the questions nor replied to them by the time of publishing.

The newspaper’s questions specifically dealt with who had authorised the action to stop the accounts; why this was done before receiving the affidavit; if it is standard practice for a bank to put a hold on an account when no criminal charges or investigations have been pursued; and why the bank froze Bronwyn’s account over a mere ‘concern’ about money received from her husband. In detailed questions, the bank was asked to clarify the lawfulness of pausing an account for six weeks (at the time) without providing any information to the client, nor serving the client with the proper documentation – thus restricting their rights to defend and/or seek legal recourse.

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In earlier communication with Lowvelder, Werksmans said they were engaging with the LPC, which has taken control of Janse van Rensburg’s trust account, to establish what their position was. If the Findlays chose to launch court proceedings, they would need to cite the LPC in their papers, said Werksmans.

“Any proceedings launched will be resisted.” Kabelo Letebele, LPC’s media relations manager, reacted to queries on the comments made by Werksmans.

“The LPC, by virtue of being the regulator of the profession, is appointed by the court to be the curator of the trust account, which was held by a suspended or struck-off legal practitioner. “This is simply to secure the funds in the trust account and prevent any further misappropriation. The processes of reclaiming funds due to clients are handled by the Legal Practitioners’ Fidelity Fund, who have their own specific processes that clients would have to follow when lodging a claim or where they had suffered financial losses. “The LPC’s powers are limited to disciplinary processes, starting with investigations of matters right up to taking legal practitioners to court for suspension and removal from the roll. As curators, we also hand back files to clients when court processes are complete, to allow them to appoint new legal counsel.

“It is for this reason that we are not able to talk to specifics of the Capitec matters, which clients need to address with Capitec directly. We are cited in court papers by virtue of having been appointed as curators in the matter.”

The Findlays told Lowvelder their credit record and good standing have been affected.

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“We have vehicles, medical aid and other debit orders that have been declined, and we have to deal with all the stress of trying to explain to everybody that we are victims of Zietta’s conduct.”

William, who said his friends and family have been their saving grace, has fortunately secured a job in Komatipoort.

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“We have the right to know who brought an application to place a hold on our accounts. If we have not even been served any papers or documentation, how can we begin to tackle our problem? Capitec claims they treat their clients with fairness. Where is the fairness in what has happened to us?”

LPC not behind Capitec’s frozen accounts | Lowvelder (2024)
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