Metcalfe Beukes Attorneys is calling on the Bank of Namibia (BoN) to intervene in how commercial banks deal with defaulting home loan holders.

In a letter directed to the Governor of the Central Bank, Attorney Richard Metcalfe accused commercial banks of economically enslaving defaulters and ignoring relief measures provided for by the Bank of Namibia.

In a five-page letter written on behalf of numerous home loan holders, the firm says homeowners are forced to default due to economic circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Metcalfe says that even though the high court has gone out of its way to be merciful, there is just no way around commercial banks that are able to afford astronomical legal fees.

"These persons are in default; they cannot even afford lawyers, so it means that their homes are taken away by banks, unscrupulously and without any mercy. These properties are sold by banks and bought by the banks themselves at sales and execution, and the bank then goes and sells them for a handsome amount on the open market and does not credit that amount to the home loan defaulters' accounts, and that is one of the principal reasons why the banks during the previous year, when we had a severe economic meltdown, declared their greatest profits ever."

The letter also states that defaulters offering reduced payments on their home loans are often rejected by commercial banks.

The Director of Strategic Communications and International Relations at the Bank of Namibia, Kazembire Zemburuka, says the Central Bank has taken note of the correspondence.

"These are issues the BoN is well aware of, as are obviously other authorities within the country. Reforms are underway that are being undertaken by the Ministry of Justice in particular to look at the legal process through which the courts adjudicate over matters of default. The BoN has welcomed the interventions by the Ministry of Justice to look at foreclosures in the country and the legal context through which they are taking place, and obviously, we cannot interfere with that process as a regulator and a supervisory authority. Any interference in that regard may be seen as contempt of a court order, and the BoN could be seen as interfering and defeating the course of justice. We do welcome the measures that have been undertaken by the Ministry of Justice in this regard."

Approached for comment, the CEO of the Bankers Association of Namibia, Brian Katjaerua, told nbc News that the issues mentioned in Metcalfe's letter are not new, adding that the Minister of Justice has held numerous public consultations on those very matters.

He, however, cautioned that the views expressed by Metcalfe are not a reflection of how commercial banks operate from a legal or procedural perspective.

Katjaerua says the association treats customers fairly and in accordance with the law, and those who have difficulty meeting contractual obligations must approach individual banks for arrangements.

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Metcalfe Beukes Attorneys


Frances Shaahama