Prospective customers who intend to finance their car purchases through Standard Chartered Botswana (SCB) will from February 8th be required to install a car tracking device in those vehicles as a way of discouraging theft.
According to SCB communications manager Itumeleng Ramsden the bank saw the need to introduce the car tracking device because of its observation on car theft cases. “Of late, we have noted with concern the escalating cases of car theft (either on hijack incidents or in parking bays) especially outside the boarders of Botswana” she said.
Ramsden added that the device will be of real benefit to customers as well as to the bank and that insurance companies tend to offer discounts in giving cover for cars with tracking devices and also that there is increased chance of recovery should their cars be stolen. Installation of the device will cost P1300 which will be paid once off but a maintenance fee of P120 will be paid monthly. The additional cost brings into the picture the concern of whether customers will afford to make car payments, especially with growing household debt. The Bank of Botswana November 2014 financial statistics reveal that between 2012 and 2014 loan repayment failures reached the highest peak in 2014. Ramsden however said that the tracking device fee will be made part of the loan amount so that customers are not burdened with extra monthly fear. On the side of the bank Ramsden said that the device will also enable them to quickly recover cars from non-paying customers. She however did not reveal the bank’s repossession rate and challenges with regards to vehicle finance.
Commenting on the issue Richard Harriman from the consumer watchdog acknowledged the benefit to the customer but however raised concerns on privacy issues. “I think consumers need an assurance from SCB that if they do ever access the tracking device how safely will the data be held and what precautions will be put in place to have the data held securely and to prevent it being misused” he said. He added that consumers who buy cars using this scheme deserve an undertaking in writing from SCB about whether the tracking device will be under the control of the consumer, the bank or both.
According to information obtained by Gazette Business from the police, car theft cases for the past 3 years show that 2012 and 2014 recorded marginally close numbers at 342 and 341 respectively whereas the number was lower in 2013 at 302. Out of the 341 cases reported in the past year 179 vehicles were recovered. Car hijacking cases in Botswana are reported to be low however the most stolen cars are of a Toyota make especially Corolla, Hilux and Runx/Allex which are said to be in high demand in neighboring SADC countries. Of the stolen cars most are usually found abandoned locally, whereas some are recovered in South Africa and Zimbabwe having been stopped at borders or in the hands of individuals in those countries. Cars are stolen at homes, offices and public parking lots especially at night with more incidents in cities, towns and some major villages close to the urban areas.