Debt collector with a court record
A man who appeared in court for defrauding Edgars Zimbabwe US$30 000 (N$450 000 at the time) in 2014 has been hired to help Agribank and Keetmanshoop regional council to recover millions of dollars from clients.
Julius Nyamazana (27) runs Red Force Debt Management Company that will collect part of Agribank’s N$500 million and Keetmanshoop’s N$60 million. At the time of the commission of the offence, Nyamazana worked as a collection clerk in the consumer credit security department at an Edgar’s branch in Bulawayo.
The bank has total arrears of just over N$500 million of the total loan book of N$2, 4 billion, which represents an ar¬rears-to-total advances ratio of 21%, while the benchmark ratio for development ﬁnancing in¬stitutions is 15%. Agribank says they have, since engaging Red Force Debt Management Company, recovered more than N$22 million. Chief Executive Ofﬁ cer Desmond Basson said the municipality awarded a two-year debt collection contract to Red Force Debt Management on 5 April 2017 following a tender process. The company will be running an ofﬁce in Keetmanshoop as from 01 May 2017 and we invite all inhabitants with outstanding amounts to make arrangements to settle their accounts, Basson said.
Senior Manager for Finance, Quinton Visagie said the collective debt has been accruing, with interest, over a number of years for services rendered. The services are water provision, refuse removal, sewer management, rates and taxes and land rentals. Visagie said the debt collector will be paid on a commission basis. Nyamazana, who said that he came to Namibia in 2012, has denied that he was convicted of the crime for which he appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Abednico Ndebele in February 2014. Red Force Debt Management Company, according to Nyamazana, was founded in 2013 but started operating in 2014. The company, he further said, has a number of clients for which it helps to recover debt as well as offer advice.
“Red Force Debt Management is not a debt collection company it is a debt management company which comprises of debt collection, debt counselling and debt mediation,” he said. Nyamazana said Red Force Debt Management Company offers advice to Namport, Oshakati, Ondangwa, Grootfontein Otavi and Monitronics Private School in Windhoek. At one time, Nyamazana said, they also worked with the City of Windhoek but stopped when they realised that the municipality had errors on its statements.
This week, Nyamazana denied that he was convicted of the crime in Zimbabwe. He said that there were allegations of fraud but the court never proved them. “Every person who works with ﬁ nance is exposed to these things. My kind of job is that I deal with money. So every time a ﬁ nance guy is faced with audits you tend to be exposed even for a cent or a billion. These were allegations,” he said. These, he explained, were allegations and that court procedures were done and he was found not guilty. “I have the police declaration.
It was just an allegation at work. I was surprised because I had already moved here to Namibia. “If I was a convict in Zimbabwe, Interpol is there, my embassy is there. I would have been arrested because I go home every week for my school work. “Why have they not done that if I am a convict? Home affairs always ask for a Zimbabwean and Namibian police clearance whenever they are handling my papers. They are doing their due diligence,” he said. Nyamazana showed The Villager a document he said was from the Zimbabwean police department of Criminal Investigations that said he was not convicted of any crimes.
He could not, however, produce any documents to show that he was acquitted of the Edgar’s fraud case. When asked if he has declared his history to his clients Nyamazana said, “Agribank, Keetmanshoop or whichever company I work with, before they work with me they do their due diligence. They go for what they see on proposals but before they put their signature, lawyers are invited to ﬁ nd out who we are and all our right documents. It only becomes a criminal record when you are found guilty.”
Since he appeared in court to answer to allegations of fraud, Nyamazana said there was no need to declare anything because business is not on the run. “We cannot run a business on allegations or spend time entertaining allegations especially if there seems to be an intention to smear my,” he stated. Nyamazana, who is the chief executive ofﬁcer of Red Force Debt Management Company, said that he is just an employee.
“I am not a shareholder of Red Force. I am an employee. I am sick and tired of newspapers trying to put the name of Red Force in the papers. They should not put the name Red Force,” he said. He said the company belongs to George Itembu and a Zimbabwean business partner. When contacted by The Villager for comment on whether he was aware of the case that had previously been brought against his CEO Itembu did not conﬁ rm anything but said that he is the sole owner of the company and that he does not have a partner.
“I am not a co-owner. The information you got is wrong. I am the owner of Red Force Debt Management. Is it a positive story or a negative story you want to write about my CEO? “I normally do not do telephonic interviews so please send an email and number two I will only reply to the e-mail on one condition, that is if you will send me the article before you publish it,” Itembu said to The Villager. Later, Itembu came back to say that he was aware of the court case against Nyamazana.
“We did a due diligence on him, similar to all other employees, and he has passed our criteria. To our knowledge, he does not have a criminal record relevant, nor was he convicted of the charges you are claiming. I would appreciate any conclusive evidence of your assertions - otherwise - please continue minding your own business,” he said. Nyamazana said they are being talked about because the company was getting tenders. He also accused some Zimbabweans in Namibia of trying to smear his name.
“It is because when other companies are given the work to do they take their monies to their trust accounts. At Red Force, we do not get any dollar. It’s paid directly to the client then the client pays us. That’s the trick,” he explained. When he addressed the media soon after getting the Keetmanshoop tender, Nyamazana said his company looked forward to assisting the municipality in the mammoth undertaking of recovering the millions of dollars. He said it is important to collect the debt as it will allow the municipality to deliver quality service once more money is available.
“The company is not here to harass people or take their property, we are here to mediate between the residents and the municipality to improve the latter’s cash ﬂ ow,” Nyamazana said then. Nyamazana also said that there might be considerations to write off debt that is owed by elderly people as long as this is approved by the urban development ministry.
“We might also consider writing off the debt of those who inherited houses and debt after discussions with such parties,” Nyamazana said. He, however, said those failing to honour their payment agreements while they are able to do so will face drastic measures such as water disconnections and court challenges. After further investigations by The Villager, an annoyed Nyamazana called to threaten with a law suit against the paper for defamation of character. In the telephonic conversation with The Villager, he said he never mentioned Namport as one of his clients.
“I communicated nicely to you but now you are sending the whole world emails. You are sending emails to Namport. Namport is not my client. I said I do debt counselling. I do debt training. “It doesn’t mean I advise the company. Publish what you want in your newspaper but you don’t have to go door by door sending people emails,” Nyamazana said.
Responding to The Villager on whether Agribank management was aware that Nyamazana was at one time accused of defrauding Edgars Zimbabwe of US$30 000 in 2014, the bank’s chief executive ofﬁ cer Sakaria Nghikembua said they did not check. “I would like to say that Agribank hired the entity called Red Force Debt Management and not an individual to do the collection. “From the bank’s perspective, our processes are clear in that the client pays their money into Agribank account and only provides proof of payment to the debt collector for purpose of payments reconciliation,” Nghikembua said.
The Villager spoke to Namport Chief Executive Ofﬁ cer, Bisey Uirab who said he did not have the details of the company they hired or the name of the person. “I know that we have appointed a company. Give me time to speak to people that were involved in that procurement processes and in the meantime drop me an e-mail and I will get back to you,” he said. However in a later email engagement with The Villager, Uirab said that Namport does not use the services of Red Force Debt Management, and never has, “Our contracted debt collection company is Revenue Solutions Namibia and we don’t make use of any other debt collection ﬁ rm. We thus do not have any information on Red Force Debt Management.”