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History in the making: Sekunjalo Group takes a stand against Mafia banks

Absa is one of the respondents in the case brought by Sekunjalo to the Equality Court. Photo: Supplied

Absa is one of the respondents in the case brought by Sekunjalo to the Equality Court. Photo: Supplied

Published May 15, 2022


By Jamie Roz

FORTY-three companies and several prominent individuals related to the Sekunjalo Group of Companies (the Group, Sekunjalo), are taking a stand against what some are calling South Africa’s “Mafia” banks, to tackle these organisations’ white monopoly capital approach to business, with the aim of compelling them to adhere to the SA Constitution in terms of transformation, empowerment, the right to trade and economic freedom for all.

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Sekunjalo is looking to stop the current abuse practised by South Africa’s all-powerful banking fraternity, which perpetuates socio-economic inequity and discrimination along race lines. In legal papers, Sekunjalo states it has faced significant discrimination in how the banks deal with it and its entities and, with banking accounts in danger of imminent danger of being closed, has resorted to a series of legal cases to prevent this from being a reality.

This is set to go down in South African history since it is the first time an entire business group is standing up to the might of the financial sector in this way.

Sekunjalo, in its papers, share how they believe that the current action by the banks to cut it off from its transactional facilities is an attempt to cripple the group, with the ultimate objective being the eradication of Independent Media.

This might seem extreme, but as Dr Iqbal Survé, Chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (SIH) – both applicants in all cases before the courts – put it: “The Sekunjalo Group is being targeted in a proxy battle for control of the media.”

Sekunjalo has also stated that there is collusion among the banks, which has led to a group boycott of the companies, entities and some persons who are linked to the Group, which is “not so strategically aligned a business” to that of the prevailing white minority capital situation.

The threatened termination of banking facilities will affect at least 8 000 employees and has far-reaching implications for around 40 000 people, as too for the SA economy, which cannot afford to lose an R8 billion per annum Group turnover and tax contribution to the fiscus.

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On the matter of a group boycott, Survé commented: “This is part of an ongoing battle between the political establishment of President Ramaphosa and his proxies, who have targeted Sekunjalo through regulatory institutions such as the JSE, FSCA, CIPC and more.”

The Group also thinks that the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), among other industry related entities and bodies, is integral to the boycott manoeuvres, having subjected the Group to repeated instances of harassment over the past few years.

“Since Independent Media’s exposé of the CR17 funding campaign, and several corrupt activities under the president’s watch, such as the PPE funding scandal and numerous other corrupt deals involving his government and Cabinet ministers, harassment of the group has escalated.”

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There are at least 20 companies operating in South Africa today that have openly admitted to fraud and corruption. These include, among now defunct entities, Steinhoff, EOH, Tongaat Hulett, Sasol, VBS Mutual Bank, KPMG, McKinsey and Company together with Trillian Capital Partners, Eskom, and software giant SAP together with Eskom and Transnet, Sharemax, WBHO, Aveng, Murray & Roberts, Group 5, Basil Read, Raubex and Stefanutti, African Global Operations, Bosasa, Goldfields, ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete, Sasol, ANN7, MultiChoice, the SABC, The New Age linked to Gupta-family company fraud, and the MMM Global Ponzi scheme.

Excluding the Gupta-family linked companies, the rest remain banked, even though these scandals have been widely publicised throughout the world, and some of the directors have been criminally charged, arrested and/or implicated in State Capture, as per the Zondo Commission report.

They have not had their banking services revoked. Instead, they have maintained their banking services uninterrupted.

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Sekunjalo has also accused the banks of being guilty of corruption in terms of their conduct, as has been shown in numerous cases; with Nedbank, Regiment Capital, Investec Bank, and the global tax fraud matter, and FNB regarding Wesbank’s collusion with Toyota. The Competition Commission also found that most of the “Mafia” banks were implicated in the major forex scandal of 2017.

These banks remain operational. No corrective measures have taken place. In fact, it’s business as usual.

Also meaning business is the Sekunjalo Group, that has now instituted legal proceedings against the banks in several different courts of law. These include the High Court, as well as the Competition Commission and Competition Tribunal, and the Equality Court.

As Survé has noted on more than one occasion, when referring to the action he and the Group are undertaking, “This battle of David and Goliath is not just about the right for Sekunjalo and its entities to be treated fairly, with respect and without discrimination, but all South Africans who have historically been disadvantaged and prevented from having access to finance, and financial instruments.

“This is a fight for the moral prosperity of the people, as much as access to the right to trade.”

Watch this space.