Zimbabwe Digital News
This week Zimbabwe Digital news received a number of complaints from our readers who reported that their Non-Resident Accounts had been unceremoniously closed by one of South Africa’s Big Four banks, FNB.
The thread of complaints said that hundreds of readers had received messages from FNB this week saying that “Funds in this non-resident account is held by the bank. Please visit your nearest branch submit proof of source of your money.”
Panic set in as numerous Zimbabwe migrants support networks and groups were flooded with people also saying they had received similar messages, that their money was now frozen at FNB, and other saying they had encountered mysterious deduction from the FNB accounts.
One of the messages that was forwarded to our newsdesk said that Zimbabweans who had opened the Non-Resident account had failed to read through the terms and conditions as it was clearly stated that: The (Non-Resident) Accounts were not for foreigner living in South Africa.
“If the bank found that there was a salary or constant amount of money being deposited monthly, or they suspect(ed) that you are illegally working in South Africa – they had a duty to freeze the money until they had proved that the account holder was holding the correct papers.”
Other complaints said that the account had a limit, and once someone deposited of saved money that exceeded R15 000, the bank would equally freeze the account.
The complaints further said that most people who had visited the FNB branches had been sent from pillar to post as some consultants gave the bank clients wrong information, information which was later changed or disputed by their supervisors.
Zimbabwe Digital News contacted FNB External Sales and Service Consultant, Amanda Mazibuko, and asked her these questions:
1. ZDN: In a few words, how does the non-resident account work? Who is it meant for, what are the basic terms and conditions and how user friendly is the account?
Amanda Mazibuko: The non resident account is made for a non-resident individual(s) who does not reside in SA. The idea is if you don’t have a permit you are given days or three months on that temporary visa. This account should be used when the non resident individual is in the country. Only foreign currency can go through this account. First deposit can be in Rands. If an individual can justify why they are receiving rands, it would not give a problem. For instance if the account holder has a property in SA and they are renting it out. They will receive rental payments in rands. Or if you have a contractual agreement with an SA company etc
2. ZDN: At R5.95 this account is probably the lowest bank charges ever. Tell us more about banks and bank charges in relation to retail banking?
Mazibuko: Infact the R5.95 account has dropped to R4.95. But you are asking about the resident account account there, and you need to have a business, work or study permit to open a resident account
3. ZDN: Why are these type of accounts popular with Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa?
Mazibuko: Non resident accounts are opened by any individual and not specific to a certain nationality. As long as you are a non-resident in South Africa you can open one.
4. ZDN: We received reports that some of the accounts of our readers had been closed after a) they appeared to receive regular monthly deposits b) After they exceeded a certain amount of money (R15 000 to R25 000)? What is going on?
Mazibuko: Firstly the only accounts that will be closed is if there is no activity on the account. So no transfers or deposits into the account. a) The bank does not close an account if there is money in it. It will only hold funds and not freeze the account if rands go in as a salary or cant be justified. b) As previously mentioned as long as funds can be justified, a client shouldn’t have a problem
5. ZDN: We also received reports that some of the FNB agents were not trained properly in opening accounts for the people who came with asylum documents.
Mazibuko: That could be true. Probably not the correct information is given to the customer. The non-resident account falls within the forex department and as a consultant, it is one’s duty to ensure that they up their skills and continuously get updated information as information changes everyday.
6. ZDN: What is the current situation with asylum customers:
Mazibuko: FNB decided to allow asylum customers to come and open accounts but in the first week of going live with the project, we encountered a lot of fake permits and these still had to get verified before a hold is removed. We rely on department of home affairs and it took a while for verification. Customers can go to the branch with their permit and proof of address but the wait is uncertain for us to receive confirmation for DHA .
7 ZDN: Is it true that FNB is rolling out a programme with will include the bank offering different language options for Zimbabweans living in South Africa to bank in ChiShona and IsiNdebele?
Mazibuko: I will have to confirm the programme for offerings in different languages. The bank would probably have to start with South African languages so I will have to confirm that first.
If you have any further questions on FNB Non-Resident accounts, contact Amanda Mazibuko on: 076 167 2990
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