Civil servants order bank to stop salary deductions

MASERU — Civil servants on Monday ordered a local commercial bank, Lesotho Standard Bank, to stop deducting money from their salaries on behalf of three money lending institutions, the Lesotho Times has learnt.
A delegation of the civil servants approached the bank to complain about the continuing deductions from their salaries despite a High Court ordering the deductions to be stopped.
The High Court on 21 October ordered the department of treasury to stop deducting money from 166 civil servants’ salaries to pay Afrisure (EEZY Management Services), B-Blue Financial Services and Select Management Services.
The civil servants took the case to the High Court challenging the high interest rates charged by the money lenders.
The court ruled that the loan contracts signed by the civil servants and the money lenders were null and void because they included excessive interest rates which exceed the stipulated 25 percent.
But the money lenders say other charges beyond the 25 percent are administrative costs.
The money lenders have since appealed against the High Court judgment.
While the case was dragging on, the money lending institutions had deducted money from some of the civil servants through Lesotho Standard Bank last month.
Mongale Letsatsi, who was part of the civil servants’ delegation, told the Lesotho Times yesterday that the bank had agreed to halt the deductions from their accounts to pay the money lenders in compliance with the court order.
“We were complaining about the deductions made through the bank.
“But we had a successful meeting with the bank because the bank undertook to stop the deductions.
“The bank’s legal adviser told us that the bank had received the order stating that the salaries should not be deducted.
“He said if the deductions were made it was a mistake which will be rectified,” Mongale said.
She said the Standard Bank official said the deductions will be suspended until the matter has been settled by the Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal is set to hear the matter in April.
Lesotho Standard Bank legal manager, Lichaba Sekhosana, yesterday confirmed the meeting between bank and the civil servants.
However he told the Lesotho Times that he could not divulge the details of what was discussed in the meeting because “of a client and bank relationship”.
“The meeting was between the bank and a client. The policy of the bank is that only the managing director and the marketing manager can speak to the media but both are not present now.
“But I can only confirm that there was a meeting in which we discussed the issue of deductions I can also tell you that the meeting has successfully reached an agreement,” Sekhosana said.

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