Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, has welcomed the Western Cape High Court’s ruling declaring “garnishee orders” against farm workers unlawful.

The application was brought by the University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic and 15 residents against a range of lenders.

At the core of the court proceedings was to assess whether it is constitutional for emolument attachment orders to be issued, without any judicial oversight, to clear a judgment debt.

Minister Winde said: “The Western Cape High Court has found these garnishee orders to be unlawful and invalid. According to reports as much as 80% of some of the applicant’s salaries were being docked in the attachment orders. We condemn this exploitation of farm workers. Irresponsible lenders who take advantage of residents need to be brought to book. Loan sharks charge exorbitant interest rates that often chain residents to a lifetime of loan repayments.

“Especially in these tough economic times, debt becomes more and more expensive and I want to encourage residents to avoid the debt trap.

“It is also key that more residents have access to financial literacy programmes. To this end, the Western Cape Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development and Tourism, run and support a range of initiatives to ensure residents have the skills they need to manage their finances.”

Residents can report farm worker issues to the Western Cape Government’s helpline on 0860 142 142.