Stokvel members warned to stay safe

Written by Kgaogelo Letsebe

Like many South Africans, Busisiwe Mkhondo (43), of Soshanguve, Pretoria, and the other members of her stokvels have been diligently saving throughout the year, planning to have a blissful festive season and some financial relief in January. 

Mkhondo says she expects to receive her stokvel savings and interest at the end of the year. However, she is worried about theft, which is always a concern when it comes to bulk stokvel pay-outs.

She says she knows of many stokvel members who have had their money stolen – either by thieves or corrupt stokvel administrators.

“Our stokvel, Divine on Monday, developed a system where the treasury responsibility does not rest with one person. The treasury committee is made up of three people, who are collectively responsible for recording, counting and banking the money,” she says.

Mkhondo explains that the secretary, chairperson and deputy chair provide support to the treasury committee.

“The money can be banked by any of the six committee members.”

According to the South African Savings Institute, low-income families have been saving through stokvels and burial societies for a long time.

“It is estimated that there are about 810 000 active stokvels, which collect about R50 billion in savings annually from more than 11 million members,” says Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gerald Mwandiambira.

Safety first

Kalyani Pillay who is the CEO of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre, says that this time of the year is particularly risky for stokvel social clubs. He warns members to be extra cautious.

Pillay shared the following safety tips for stokvel members;

  • Avoid making cash deposits on high-risk days (such as Mondays after month-end).
  • If possible, vary the days and times you deposit cash.
  • Arrange for payments and pay-outs to be done electronically.

“It is very distressing that bank clients, who are the victims of stokvel robberies, are often injured or even killed during these incidents, which is why we urge them to find safer ways to transact, such as internet transfers or mobile banking, instead of carrying large amounts of cash,” says Pillay.