•  Let me greet you with the traditional Kalanga welcome to the New Year – Goledzwa
BALANCING BOOKS: Money lenders

A new year represents a new beginning – a new season – a time of renewal, but not all of you will agree with the perception that a new year offers prospects of revival. For some 1January is just another morning, another day in the life in which there is nothing new and nothing will change.

However the change I want to discuss is the one that you can make happen, the change that comes from within and not that which is driven by external forces. We all possess an inner force that can respond to difficulties, and as the year begins we can consciously dig deeper within and make a decision to overcome all the Goliaths that might stand before us in 2012.

The case I want to share with you this week in the dealings of the customary court is an illustration of the January ‘disease’ in which 80% of the civil cases registered are from Cash Loan operators. The cash loan business, registered and unregistered (bo machonisa), has greatly increased in recent years.

In high density townships these cash loans operate on trust and compassion to the exclusion of standard business formalities. Two years ago Mma Lefika came to lodge a complaint against her son- in-law Mr Moyo. She claimed that he owed her P2 000 which was taken as a loan at 30% which is the acceptable township interest rate. When Moyo appeared he expressed shock at his mother-in- law’s unfounded allegation.

During the trial it became evident that the business transaction was based on trust and compassion to bail out a deserving son-in-law. In the process Moyo was never asked to sign on the black hard cover which was Mma Lefika’s record book.

The distressed woman explained that her oversight was due to the urgency of the matter as her son-in-law was threatened with civil imprisonment. The argument basically came down to one person’s word against the other, although Mma Lefika was able to show records of other business transactions where Moyo had signed for amounts borrowed from her.

What would you do if you were to judge this matter? Mma Lefika’s story was convincing although it was unsupported by the borrower’s signature. She expressed her pain at having to drag her mokhwenyana to Lekgotla as it was considered culturally unacceptable. On the other hand Moyo’s denial was accompanied by a list of kind acts he had extended to Mma Lefika and her entire family.

He found it ridiculous that an amount of P2 000 should matter so much to his mother-in-law compared to the unlimited services he had extended to the family. He mumbled something to the effect that he acted as the family mechanic and handy man at no cost. Added to that Mma Lefika’s daughter expressed her displeasure with her mother during the trial, claiming her actions would mess up her marriage. It was difficult to get to the bottom of this matter. Was Moyo exploiting his mother in law’s oversight and omission? In the end the case was dismissed as there was no evidence linking Moyo to the P2 000. It was one of the many cases that did not see the light of day at the kgotla due to lack of evidence.

There are lessons to be learnt from this case. In the New Year let us become more considerate especially where family members become clients for our cash loans.

In 2012 we can certainly do without the anger and frustration which accompanies aborted justice. We need to hold each other’s hand in this very challenging journey of life. Many people out there have been trained to bite the hand that feeds them. Make sure that in 2012 you will escape the teeth of your neighbour! Let me conclude by quoting Melody Beaty in her book ‘The Language of letting Go:’ “The New Year stands before us like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.

We can help write that story by setting goals.” Go ahead and set your goals for the next 11 months to ensure that you will not be a casualty of careless fellow travelers in the journey of life, but don’t lose sight of the joy the present moment can bring. Enjoy 2012 whatever


If you have a question you would like to but to her, please e-mail [email protected]

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