More S. Africans falling into debt trap

More South Africans are falling into the debt trap and last year was one of the worst for a long time with record numbers seeking protection under debt counseling.

Debt Rescue CEO Neil Roets says more than double the number of deeply indebted individuals applied for relief in 2012.

Roets says most consumers seeking help are in danger of losing their homes and vehicles.

The greater demand for credit peaked at more than 10% compared to the same period last year with total household debt in November peaking at over R1 billion. Investec economist Annabel Bishop says the average household has 32% more unsecured debt than a year ago.

Gauteng has the highest consumer debt per capita of all nine provinces, the SA Institute of Race Relations said yesterday.

The country’s economic capital also accounted for almost half of consumer debt held in South Africa, according to a survey conducted by the SAIRR.

The average individual in Gauteng owed R4 260.

The greater demand for credit peaked at more than 10% compared to the same period last year with total household debt in November peaking at over R1 billion.
Forms of debt included mortgage agreements, secured credit, unsecured credit, credit facilities, and short-term credit transactions.

Georgina Alexander, researcher at SAIRR, said Gauteng had the highest annual average household income in the country. She said higher income earners were able to borrow money more easily as they had assets or income against which they could borrow.

“On the other hand, low income earners are less likely to have assets or a large enough income against which they can borrow money. So part of the reason for the high per capita debt in Gauteng may be the higher incomes in the province,” Alexander said.

The Western Cape accounted for 14% of the total debt owed in South Africa and had the second highest debt per capita at R2 700 per person.

The province with the lowest per capita debt was Limpopo, which accounted for 4% of the total debt owed in South Africa, with R750 per capita.

The data obtained from the National Credit Regulator also revealed that total consumer debt in South Africa increased from R85 billion in 2011 to R104 billion in 2012.

Average per capita debt in South Africa was R2050, representing the average amount each person owed. Additional reporting by Sapa

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