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Camera cowboys' repossessing cars

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

car cowboys

CONTENTIOUS: A vehicle fitted out with equipment used to repossess cars that are, among other things, in arrears on their accounts. Picture: Matthews Baloyi. 


By Angelique Serrao


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.

Banks and the owner of the technology claim they are acting within the law, but the board of sheriffs and transport commentators says the repossessions are illegal.

Those who work in the debtcollection business call them the “camera cowboys”.

They are a type of bounty hunter who look for cars on the road that are targeted for repossession, and when they spot them, get owners to “volunteer” their property to them.


The cameras are part of a relatively new technology known as the International Vehicle Identification Desk (Ivid) system.

car cowboys 2

HI-TECH: The licence plate-recognition cameras are mounted on the roof of vehicles.


Sheriffs and traffic experts say the recovery of vehicles by anyone who is not a sheriff of the court or a police officer is illegal, and unsuspecting motorists who are approached are not aware of their rights.

According to sources within the debt-collection industry and who did not want to be named, these cars are pulling off vehicles marked for repossession, printing out a court order at the scene, which they present to the driver, before confiscating the car.

The vehicles are then taken to auction houses, where the “repossessor” is given a commission of between R5000 and R15 000 a vehicle. According to sources at the auction houses, the most successful “camera cowboys” bring in between five and six vehicles a day.

Ivid director Lee Dutton said they provide the hardware that recognises licence plates. This data is loaded onto a server with information supplied by the financial institution.

He said the system does not have direct access to eNatis.

But Dutton said it was illegal for vehicles to be pulled off the road as only police officers are allowed to do this, and they monitor their agents to make sure this does not happen.

car cowboys 3

QUICK: The International Vehicle Identification Desk system recognises number plates of vehicles that have outstanding court orders against them.


Instead, he said, when their drivers trace a car, they wait for the vehicle to stop, then approach the driver. Dutton said there had been a few cases, however, where they get complaints that motorists have been pulled over.

When this happens, Dutton said, they pull those drivers off the road.


Dutton said agents would not prevent a driver from driving off; do not chase vehicles that speed off; would not approach vehicles with a woman alone in the car; the handover of keys must be voluntary; they must offer the driver a lift home; and they do not use blue lights.

WesBank spokesman Rudolf Mahoney said they were using the Ivid system as a joint initiative with Business Against Crime, the SAPS and other banks. He said they have used the technology for 14 months, and WesBank is recovering 90 vehicles a month.

He said no vehicles were pulled off the road and vehicles fitted with the automated number plate-recognition technology scanned number plates of stationary vehicles in public places.

Mahoney said the number plates were tested against SAPS and other databases to see if the vehicle was stolen; fraudulently financed; had fraudulent instalment takeovers; was guilty of eNatis fraud; or were clients who have not handed over their vehicles despite receiving court orders to do so.

But 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.

Spokeswoman Nikiwe Vuba said sheriffs are regulated by statute, have a code of conduct, cannot mislead the public or misrepresent themselves, and cannot make unjustified threats.

Howard Dembovsky, from the Justice Project South Africa, said that not only do court orders have to be delivered by a sheriff, they must be original and bear the stamp of the court and these agents, and the companies who hire them are doing so illegally.

“No one is saying that people who don’t pay their debts should be allowed to retain assets, but there are legal processes and these must be followed and that is that.

“These agents may be charged criminally with a number of crimes, and the excuse that people ‘willingly surrender to them’ is moot, given the fact that they are acting unlawfully,” Dembovsky said.

The AA’s Gary Ronald was very concerned to hear that civilians had access to people’s private information and wondered who regulated this type of technology. -The Star

South African Board for Sheriffs Kwa-Zulu Natal Road Show

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cordially invites you to the SABFS Road Show that will be held in Durban and hosted by our Board members. This is the opportunity for the profession to engage with our Board members in a relaxed setting.

Date : 12 June 2013
Venue : Hilton Hotel,
Walnut Road,
Tel no : 031 336 8121
Time : 18h00 – 21h00

Please RSVP by fax to 086 600 4924 or email nikiwe@sheriffs.org.za no later than 31 May 2013.

For more information please contact: Ms Nikiwe Vuba - 021 462 3209


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Kindly note there is a fraudster that is using the Goldberg Prokureurs/Attorneys as a front to Obtain Funds from the Sheriffs.

They pretend to deposit R40 000 into the sheriffs account and then phone the sheriff’s offices, claiming the they have deposited a sum of R40 000 mistakenly in to their bank accounts.  

The account presently being used by these fraudsters is Acc No. 134594035 B/Code 470010 Name: Goldberg Prokureurs/Attorneys, and the contact person is Warren Solomon.


6th World Sheriffs Day

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The South African Board for Sheriffs will celebrate the 6th World Sheriffs Day, an international event that is organised by the International Union of Judicial Officers (UIHJ), on 6 June 2013.

The theme for this year is “The Sheriff: Legal interface between litigants”. The topic will be an opportunity to show the public that the sheriff is a true vector of communication between litigants, creditors and debtors, and also between the government and litigants.

The day is intended to bring recognition to the Sheriffs profession and raise awareness and understanding to the public about the role of the Sheriff. The work of the sheriff is still unknown to the general public and the Board would like to use this month of June to engage with the communities and try to change the negative perceptions towards the profession.

The Board would like to encourage all Sheriffs to participate and celebrate the World Sheriffs day in their various districts by:

  • Serving documents free of charge or at a half price.
  • Host soup kitchens.
  • Visit the Magistrate Courts and hand out pamphlets. (Who is the Sheriffs and Myths and Facts)

We will be most grateful to you if you can participate and use your imagination to promote your office and the profession during the said week. You can record your involvement by taking photographs and writing a short report. Please request information brochures from our office in the languages that you require for your specific areas.

Please contact Nikiwe Vuba on 021-462 3209 or nikiwe@sheriffs.org.za if you would require the SABFS to assist in anyway.

Demarcation Area's

Friday, May 03, 2013

Provided in the document below is the demarcation area of the six new branch courts as determined by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Demarcation Matters Demarcation Matters (2861 KB)



Friday, April 26, 2013

On 2 December 2011 the President of South Africa, Mr. JG Zuma (MP), signed the Protection of Harassment Act, 17 of 2011 (the Harassment Act) into law. The Harassment Act will come into operation on 27 April 2013, our national Freedom Day. Freedom Day marks the liberation of our country and its people from a long period of oppression by minority rule through the relentless efforts of those who fought for our liberation who had to endure imprisonment, harassment and death by the apartheid-era government. It also signifies the date on which all persons in South Africa irrespective of race and/or creed cast their vote in the first democratic election in the country on 27 April 1994, to afford us the freedoms that we enjoy today. However, today we have violence, perpetrated by the hands of persons known to victims of crime.

Download the PDF for full report -


Conditions of Sales

Monday, March 11, 2013

Please find attached the amended conditions of sale, which takes into account the increase in the Sheriff's commission.

  • The increase comes into effect on the 22nd of March 2013.
  • Please be advised that the panel of attorneys of FNB will be instructed to use these conditions as from the 22nd of March 2013.
  • The Sheriff’s commission has increased from R8 750.00 to R9 655.00 excl. VAT.
  • Please refer to clause 4.9.

Further amendments to cater for electrical fence certificates of compliance in terms of the Electrical Machinery Regulations which is issued in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Please refer to clause 5.1.

Siyanazisa Newsletter - Volume 1, February 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

A busy year ahead!!!

It’s my pleasure to welcome each and every one of you back to work. We hope 2013 will be a great year for you and your families. For us, it’s another opportunity to work hard in pursuing and achieving our strategic and objective goals.

Last year we welcomed new Board members and a new executive manager, and added five new employees to the staff contingent of the SABFS. We also saw a number of developments within the Board, including, for the first time, formal training courses accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority and Safety and Security SETA – a big step forward in professionalising the sector.

The sheriffs’ profession received an enormous boost in capacity last year when the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe appointed 121 sheriffs countrywide. We also welcomed the announcement of 130 vacant posts to be filled this year, and wish all applicants the best of luck.

Improving the public perception of the sheriffs’ profession is one of our major priorities, and to this end we’re going to embark on a number of outreach programmes and media campaigns. We will, in the meantime, continue exercising oversight of the sheriffs’ profession by ensuring that their duties and responsibilities are completed in the prescribed manner that upholds the dignity of all the people we serve.

I take this opportunity to thank all of you, current and retired sheriffs, for giving so freely and abundantly of yourselves to the Board and the profession for many years. This year is going to be a busy one for us. Let us all work hand in hand to improve our services and change the perception of sheriffs in the eyes of the public.

Download the full pdf

SABFS Newsletter Feb 2013 SABFS Newsletter Feb 2013 (1216 KB)


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The South African Board for Sheriffs (the Board) is a statutory body regulating the affairs of the Sheriffs throughout the Republic Of South Africa. It does so in terms of the Sheriffs Act, No 90 of 1986, as amended. The objects of the Board are, amongst others, to maintain the esteem of, the enhancement of the status of, and the improvement of the standard of training of and functions performed by, Sheriffs.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a permanent position. You will be contracted per project.

To assist you, we have provided you with the following information. If you believe that you have any of the following competencies then you should apply. You may apply for a position as a Facilitator, Assessor or Moderator. You may apply for all three or a combination of the three available positions.

It would be common knowledge that we need persons with specific skills, keeping in mind the fact that services will be provided within the Sheriffs profession. You should have:


  • Content knowledge of the Sheriffs Profession
  • Knowledge of SETA learning processes
  • Research skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Creative skills
  • Lesson preparation
  • Power Point knowledge
  • Computer software skills
  • Experience

Further sought after competencies are as follows;

  • The facilitator should have a friendly yet professional manner.
  • The ability to interact with an audience is crucial since we require our learners to participate during sessions.
  • The capacity to speak more than one language would be most valuable since our learners are representative of all races and cultures.
  • A strong sense of cultural diversity is a must in order to relate to a varied group of learners.
  • The talent to pitch to learners of all ages and learning levels as well as different job specifications is a challenge that cannot be ignored.
  • A clear understanding of teaching and learning methodologies would be an attribute to the facilitator.

If successful, you will be required to:

  • Sign a two year contract with the SABFS, in line with its roster.
  • Confirm your availability / Subject to your availability
  • Attend capacity building workshops
  • Attend Train the Trainer workshops.
  • Attend preparation meetings/workshops.
  • Analyse group and individual learner profiles
  • Travel to various provinces
  • Spend time away from home
  • Work weekends
  • Prepare for lessons
  • Develop presentations and
  • Assist with material development

Assessors and Moderators will know that they will need to be accredited for the specific qualifications the SABFS will present. You will need to apply to the SASSETA for an extension of scope to include the various Unit Standards required. You may apply to the SABFS now and if successful, you will be given an opportunity to approach the SETA for the extension of scope.

Remuneration: R 2 500.00 per Day

  • The fee includes your preparation
  • If you are a VAT vendor, you may add VAT to the fee
  • If you are not a VAT vendor you will receive the full fee and we will provide you
  • with an IRP5 certificate at the end of the financial year

The SABFS will provide travel and accommodation.

Please submit the application form, your CV, SETA Registration Certificate/s and any other certificates of qualifications, by 25 March 2013 and forward by fax or e- mail to:

Zainab Abrahams
The South African Board for Sheriffs
Training Division
P.O. Box 5454
Cape Town
Fax.: 0866062989
E-mail: zainab@sheriffs.org.za
Tel.: 021 462 3209



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The South African Board for Sheriffs (“SABFS”) is a statutory regulatory body established in term of the Sheriffs Act 90 of 1986. The SABFS’ objectives are the maintenance of the esteem, the enhancement of the status and the improvement of the standard of training of and functions performed by sheriffs.

Closing date for submission: 08 March 2013