The Process of Debt Review Removal in South Africa

Have you been thinking about Debt Review? Chances are, if you can’t afford living expenses or to make the minimum debt repayments, Debt Review is for you. This is consolidating all your credit and loan repayments into one manageable monthly repayment through negotiating with creditors for reduced payments, extended payment windows, and lower interest. What if you tire of Debt Review? It’s time to initiate its removal. Read on to discover the workings of this fascinating process in South Africa!

How to exit Debt Review

As of March 2015, exiting Debt Review has become grossly more complex. The case used to be that the court could ask your debt counsellor to reassess your situation and make a recommendation to the court that you be relieved of Debt Review.  There also used to be a voluntary Debt Review exit form, Form 17.4, that was replaced on 19 February 2015 by the Withdrawal Guidelines 002 of 2015 issued by the National Credit Regulator (NCR). This was to create legal clarity in the process for attorneys, consumers, and creditors.

Then, in a huge High Court matter, called the Van Vuuren judgment, clarity was provided on whether a consumer under debt review whose financial circumstance has improved can withdraw from debt review without a clearance certificate.  Following an intense review of the case, the high court announced that it can’t declare a consumer free from Debt Review, except under specific circumstances.

Exiting Debt Review

You either should withdraw before the court signs off on your finance rearrangement (after talking to your debt counsellor) or after you’ve proven you’ve paid off your debts. You don’t have to pay: school loans or student loans, emergency loans, pawn transactions, public interest credit agreements, incidental credit agreements, mortgages, or temporary increases in the credit limit under a credit facility.

Description of Over-Indebtedness

In the context of Debt Review, being over-indebted means you can’t satisfy your credit agreements, like making minimum payments or payments on time.

Proving you’re not over-indebted

If you can prove you’re not over-indebted, the court can reject your debt counsellor’s Form 17.2 (application for Debt Review) appeal. You can present additional facts to corroborate your case, like evidence (receipts, bank statements and so on) that you can exit the process.

When you get your clearance certificate, credit bureaus have no choice but to remove Debt Review and your over-indebtedness from their records. It’s illegal for them not to do this; “Failure by a credit bureau to comply with a notice issued in terms of section 55, in relation to this section, is an offence.“– Section 71 (7), NCA.

When can you exit Debt Review?

Only after your debt counsellor has determined you are over-indebted and before the Magistrates Court has granted a debt re-arrangement order– show them your receipts in court BEFORE the court signs the papers. It’s important to know that section 87 of the NCA is applicable., which says that A debt counsellor determines over-indebtedness when they issue Form 17.2(b) to credit providers and update the credit bureaus via DHS (the Department of Human Settlement). (Basically, you can walk away from Debt Review if you can prove you’re not broke after all). If the court finds that you’re over-indebted, you have to stick with Debt Review. You have to stay under Debt Review until you’ve paid off absolutely everything: credit providers, court fees, and debt counselling fees.

Section 87 of the NCA.

Can you exit Debt Review after the court order has been signed off?

After the Van Vuuren judgment came to pass, the court decided that it had no power to declare you no longer over-indebted. The only way to get out is to pay off your debt as set out in section 71 of the NCA. Otherwise, they can refuse your clearance certificate application. Charming. Oh, and your debt counsellor can’t remove your judgments and/or record of debt, either. They can even refuse your clearance certificate, but you can refute that at the court Tribunal.  There is a loophole, though–your debt counsellor can suspend or withdraw their services. 

This can happen if you refuse to cooperate with your debt counsellor (not recommended), like not providing relevant information or proof, non-payment of debt counselling fees, etc. Suspension can be lifted when you pay your fees or you’ve provided relevant documents. They stop their services by submitting Form 17W(b). They can even transfer you to a different counsellor.


In summary, you can exit Debt Review before the court signs the finance rearrangement documents or you can prove you’ve paid your debts. If you need help exiting Debt Review, contact Cape Town Legal Consultants. We make exiting the arduous process swift and easy!