Banking red tape in SA

BY ZAKEUS CHIBAYA

JOHANNESBURG - Red tape within the South Africa banking sector is blocking access to banking services for Zimbabwean asylum seekers, making them vulnerable to criminals. Most of the banks in South Africa are reluctantly to accept Section 22 Asylum paper as a genuine documen

t. Even First National Bank, which purportedly allows asylum seekers and refugees to bank with it, has no clear policy to deal with them. A mini survey by The Zimbabwean revealed that many bank employees are ignorant about asylum seekers. No official comment could be obtained from the banks. “What is an asylum seeker? I am sorry I am not aware. Can you go to another branch,” said a female banker in central Johannesburg. At a branch in Braamfontein a male official said he had to first check with Department of Home Affairs to ascertain the authenticity. “First go and renew your permit before we can open account for you,” was the response at Marshaltown branch. Many asylum seekers are complaining of shifting of goal posts by the banks when they are dealing with refugees. “We are now targets of criminals because we are not able to bank our savings. Every time I am trailed by thugs to my flat especially on pay days. Twice I have been mugged and lost my whole pay,” said Magereth Nyoni of Doorfontein. Jeffrey Nkala of Alexandra bemoaned the banks’ policy over asylum seekers as they are putting them on various risks. He added that many asylum seekers lost their lives to criminals because they carry or keep large amounts of cash. “Although many asylum seekers are not formally employed they survive on flea markets. If you walk around you will see that most of the foreigners initiate their own small business and they make a turnover of R35 000per month but they could not bank the money because of bureaucracy,” he said. An economist who refused to be named said asylum seekers and refugees can contribute significantly to the economic growth of South Africa if doors were opened for them to invest their money in the conventional way.

11-january-2006
Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 10th December 2005

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