Net1 appoints ombudsman to oversee future disputes

2017-06-05 18:00 - Lameez Omarjee with Bloomberg
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Net1 UEPS CEO Serge Belamant is the "victim" of a PhD scam, says the board of this company. (Supplied)

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Johannesburg – Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc. [JSE: NT1] has appointed an independent ombudsman to oversee disputes related to the financial services offered by the company.

This is according to an investment note issued on Monday. Net1 is the parent company of Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) which distributes social grant payments to recipients for the South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa).

The R10bn contract, initially awarded to CPS in 2012 was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court because correct procurement processes were not followed. However earlier this year, the Constitutional Court extended the unlawful contract in order for the distribution of grants not to be interrupted, as Sassa had failed to put the mean in place to take over from CPS.  

READ: CPS and Sassa ordered to continue paying grants

Advocate Neville Melville, was appointed as the ombudsman, the note read. Melville has had experience in the dispute resolution field, Net1 explained. Before being appointed Net1 ombudsman, Melville headed the Consumer Goods and Services Ombud scheme for four years.

Melville will take on the position with immediate effect. The company plans to publish the ombudsman’s terms of reference, reporting obligations, contact details and customer service charter before the end of June 2017.

“We are delighted that Adv. Melville has agreed to establish the ombud function,” said chief executive Herman Kotze. “We are aware of persistent public complaints about the functioning of our call centre and dispute resolution process, which we have been unable to verify despite our best efforts,” he added.

“We are confident that Neville’s vast experience will assist us in achieving our goals, while providing independent oversight and reporting,” said Kotze. 

The ombudsman will function independently from the already established query and dispute resolution process of the company.

The ombudsman was established to receive complaints from the company’s customers, this includes social grants payments, the group said. The ombudsman will be responsible for the settlement of complaints through conciliation and mediation, as well as collecting any outstanding information required for decision making.

READ: Allan Gray outraged at Belamant's golden handshake

Former Net1 chief executive Serge Belamant stepped down following the Sassa crisis. He walked away with a package more than R100m, as well as a payment of $50 000 (R655 500) per month to consult for the company after his early retirement, Bloomberg reported.

Asset manager Allan Gray expressed outrage at the severance payment to Belamant, but Kotze defended the decision. Kotze said the package was justified as Belamant was forced into early retirement, Bloomberg reported.

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