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Debt administrator ‘pockets’ nearly half of miners’ repayments

Nearly half the money that seven Amplats miners are paying to a debt administrator and a law firm is being used for administrative costs.

Sake Beeld reported on Monday that Klerksdorp-based law firm Hannetjie van der Merwe and HVDM Administrators are pocketing 44% of the money Amplats is deducting from the seven workers’ salaries to repay their debt, according to papers filed by Amplats executive head Chris Griffith at the high court in Pretoria.

He argues this happens because legal fees for debt administration are outsourced. These costs are then added to the outstanding debt. Although the law allows this in some cases, Griffith argues it may not be done.

Amplats and the seven workers want debt administration – as determined by the Magistrate’s Court Act – declared unconstitutional.

Hannetjie Piennar, the founder and head of the law firm and HVDM, argues that the fees are strictly in accordance with the Act.

Cocktail of factors
It is believed that high levels of credit may have contributed to the cocktail of factors that led to the bloody clashes that took place between police and miners employed by platinum mining company Lonmin in the North West platinum belt in 2012. 

The Farlam commission of inquiry, which was appointed by the president to investigate the events that led to the tragedy, heard in November 2014 that wage increases for workers at Impala Platinum had a direct impact on the events at Lonmin in the run-up to the Marikana massacre in August 2012, according to counsel for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Police shot dead 34 miners in Marikana on August 16 that year, and many others were injured. They were striking for their monthly wage to be increased to R12 500.

Another 10 people were killed in the preceding week, including two policemen and two security guards. – Sapa, Staff reporter

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