Sunday, September 11, 2005


In today’s paper Business Report (link) an extraordinary story unfolds about the bank we all know and love, and their attempt to attach R187 million against a debt of R13 000 owed by businessman Rico Benert.

The R13 000 is owed for legal costs ABSA incurred when Rico Bernert took ABSA and Sanlam to court on behalf of his business partner, Alfred Mahner, who killed himself and his family in 1996, when facing financial pressure to repay an overdraft of R250 000 to Trust Bank (now part of ABSA).

Here’s the interesting part, Alfred Mahner received the Bravery Medal of the Republic of South Africa, for rescuing schoolchildren from the Westdene bus disaster in 1985. Bernert is putting this medal up against the R13 000 owed to ABSA, and the best part is if ABSA sells the medal and makes more than the debt, Bernert will have the singular pleasure of extracting money from the behemoth banking group.

Bernert’s skirmishes with ABSA and Sanlam make fascinating reading, an everyman against the might of the gigantic banking conglomerate, David vs Goliath, the man has balls to spare. Break a leg, Rico Bernert, nobody feels sorry for the banks, the people who put the F into grudge purchase.

My bank, however, wants to fly me to the moon, which may have sounded like a good idea to the advertising folks in the boardroom brainstorm over catered lunch, but it doesn’t jibe with their cash cow’s more modest aspirations. Question FNB, why would I want to fly to the moon when I owe you money for my house, which you will whip away from me in a flash if I come upon hard times and can’t pay for a few months. How does this trip to the moon work? On Friday I leave my job as call center operator for Helkom, fly to the moon and be back at my desk on Monday, so I don’t lose my pension and medical benefits, and I’ve still got the leaky roof, the cracked backyard and the millstone around my neck. I’d rather have the money thanks, so if I win, (apparently I’m automatically entered) I’m putting it up on e-Bay.

Then I’ll pay off my house.


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Jeanna said...
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