Hundreds of cars are being repossessed by agents employed by banks who drive around in unmarked cars with number plate recognition cameras mounted on top, it was reported on Monday.
According to The Star, banks and owners of the technology claimed they were acting within the law, but the board of sheriffs and transport commentators said the repossessions were illegal.
The cameras were part of a new technology known as the International Vehicle Identification Desk (Ivid).
Sheriffs and traffic experts said the recovery of a vehicle by anyone who was not a sheriff of the court or a police officer was illegal.
Wesbank spokesman Rudolf Mahoney said they were using the Ivid system as a joint initiative with Business Against Crime, the South African Police Service, and other banks.
He said they had used the technology for 14 months and Wesbank was recovering 90 vehicles a month.
The South African Board of Sheriffs said it was illegal for anyone but a sheriff of the court to hand people court orders and repossess their belongings.
Spokesman Nikiwe Vuba said sheriffs were regulated by statute, had a code of conduct, could not mislead the public or misrepresent themselves, and could not make unjustified threats.
Howard Dembovsky, of the Justice Project SA, said court orders had to be delivered by a sheriff, be original, and bear the stamp of the court.
The agents and the companies hiring them were doing so illegally. — Sapa
- Image: Ricoeurian/Flickr