By Masibongwe Sihlahla
The reasons that the Competition Appeals Court (CAC) gives in for allowing the banks to continue with their collective punishment of the workers of Sekunjalo are just as lacking in credibility and transparency as the reasons the banks gave.
The colluding banks as well as the CAC have not been upfront in the real reasons they are targeting Sekunjalo because as far as the public is concerned no clear reasons for the closure, have been provided thus leaving the employees as account holders in the dark about the decision which will impact them heavily and negatively.
The impending closure of Sekunjalo accounts will disrupt the employees as account holder's financial transactions such as account payments, direct deposits, and other essential banking services such as buying electricity on their banking apps.
As soon as the accounts of Sekunjalo are closed it will directly lead to a negative impact on the credit score of the employees because as soon as a stop order does not go through, it is reported to credit agencies, it will affect the account holder's credit score negatively and future financial transactions.
The Competition Appeals Court was supposed to serve the people of South Africa and protect their rights and dignity as a court of last appeal in this matter and employees feel rightly that the CAC has derelicted its duty to protect vulnerable employees who will be directly impacted by any account closures of their employer in this case Sekunjalo because the highly politicised South African public is quite aware that the decision by the banks to close the accounts of Sekunjalo is based purely on political decisions and in no way based on any real proven risk assessment.
The CAC has failed not only the employees but also the citizens of South Africa in stooping to the interest of Big Business.
It is a sad day in the history of struggle in this country when a court is beholden to Big Business.
The employees as account holders at these banks whose salaries will stop being paid into their accounts if this illegitimate closure of Sekunjalo accounts goes ahead had hope in the CAC is clear that the independence of the court has been compromised as judicial philosophy based on our Constitutional Values and their right to dignity has been thrown under the bus by this court.
This is a sad day in the history of the struggle for human rights and dignity in this country.
If this court ruling is not overturned we as a country will begin a slippery slope to chaos.
The issue of racism is clear if you speak to the man on the street because of the sheer absence of any legitimate reasons why the court would agree with the banks to go ahead with the closure of the accounts of Sekunjalo.
Most of the employees at Sekunjalo are previously disadvantaged and still disadvantaged thanks to this discriminatory and short-sighted CAC.
Sekunjalo itself is a company owned and managed by members of the previously disadvantaged groups and thanks to the CAC beholden to Big Business they are still disadvantaged.
Any court in South Africa in terms of natural law as our Constitution cannot effect any judgements based on collective punishment. Our country is quite aware that collective punishment is a crime against humanity.
The CAC was made aware of the fact that it is mostly members of the previously disadvantaged groups who will be adversely affected by this ruling in favour of the banks and that it will disproportionately affect those specific demographic population groups but to no avail. In my discussion with first-year law students at home from university, they tell me clearly that these impending closures by the arrogant banks can be determined as unfair when they are not adequately justified and the fact that Sekunjalo made clear it will impact their employees' financial stability, and limit their individual's abilities to address the situation effectively as many of them are not of the means to engage lawyers to fight on their behalf and was hoping the appeal of Sekunjalo will carry the day but sadly a bought and paid CAC has shown no compassion and not justice in terms of the points of law Sekunjalo put to the court.
The employees particularly but the public in general see that the impending closure of Sekunjalo accounts is due to racial prejudice, which will lead to further injustices and negative impacts upon whole families because the impending closure of Sekunjalo's bank accounts will disrupt their financial stability, leading to hardship in accessing funds, making transactions, and managing day-to-day financial activities such as buying airtime or electricity as I have mentioned earlier.
I have mentioned earlier that there will be a negative impact on the credit history of employees as soon as Sekunjalo's bank accounts are closed. This is especially egregious as these closures are perceived by all as directly due to racial prejudice. At this festive time when families are celebrating and vacationing with family and friends this ruling of the CAC has caused tremendous emotional distress amongst employees of Sekunjalo who were hoping for the CAC to make a ruling based on justice to the voters of this country who as taxpayers are paying the huge salaries and benefits of these judges who are failing the people they are paid to serve.
Families are already reporting that their kids are suffering anxiety and are upset that the CAC have failed their families and people feel discriminated against and cannot believe this injustice served upon them by the CAC.
As one child of an employee said first they were raped by the banks and now they are raped by the CAC. Academics have already alerted the public to the fact that account closures based on racial prejudice as is the case here can perpetuate financial exclusion and limit access to essential banking services, further exacerbating existing inequalities that blacks in this country already suffer.
Madiba would be turning in his grave if he knew about what is happening in the courts in South Africa which is supposed to be last bastion of protection for poor blacks.
This court ruling is an insult to the dignity of every South African and I trust that this matter will be taken to The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Masibongwe Sihlahla Independent Writer and Political Analyst