Garnishee use and debt-collection techniques that could be said to contribute to overindebtedness have been sources of legal controversy for years. Reckless lending, overindebtedness and garnishee orders were linked to the Marikana strike in 2012. Then, in 2015, 15 consumers brought a class action case to the high court in Cape Town that contested the legal basis of their garnishees — and raised awareness of the issue. But there have been legislative changes introduced to curb these, somewhat. Technically speaking, what we call "garnishees" in SA are emolument attachment orders (EAOs). These are legal documents that are served on a credit consumer’s employer and essentially extract a repayment amount directly from a debtor’s salary before it hits their bank account. They are administered under the Magistrates’ Court Act (MCA), the National Credit Act and the Debt Collectors Act, among others. The class action case ultimately ended up in the constitutional court, where much of the Ca...

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