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Stop the abuse: Through banking for change, we can bank on change!

There are about twenty companies, including Steinhoff, that have engaged in accounting fraud, and acknowledged the criminal activities, while some have participated in money laundering, yet their bank accounts and those of their directors remain open. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

There are about twenty companies, including Steinhoff, that have engaged in accounting fraud, and acknowledged the criminal activities, while some have participated in money laundering, yet their bank accounts and those of their directors remain open. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 12, 2022

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Jamie Roz

A co-ordinated strategy initiated and funded by the establishment to bring down the companies linked to the Sekunjalo Group as well as its chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé, is not working.

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The Sekunjalo Group is constantly having to dismiss related propaganda spewed by the likes of amaBhungane, Daily Maverick and News 24, which is described as an attempt to destabilise and undermine the black-owned conglomerate.

The establishment wants to suppress the voices that are committed to transformation and Black economic empowerment. This propaganda campaign began in 2018 and is now in full swing as the 2022 ANC National Conference fast approaches.

But they are running out of options and plans as the Sekunjalo Group has made its voice heard at the Competition Commission, the Competition Tribunal, the High Court and now, the Equality Court.

It is also clear that the establishment and the media proxies cannot afford to have Sekunjalo and Independent Media competing in the same space, so after a four-year attempt at trying to cripple the group, they have now resorted to getting the banks to deal the “final blow”.

But what the establishment did not expect is for Sekunjalo to fight back. The group has come back stronger, and has an established support base, all of whom are saying that enough is enough!

Stop the abuse by South Africa’s all-powerful banking fraternity. Stop the abuse of our poor people using discriminatory and racially-based tactics. Stop the abuse by South Africa’s all-powerful banking fraternity of socio-economic inequity.

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Enough of these anti-transformative measures are being implemented.

An order handed down by Judge Matthew Francis to Survé and other complainants in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, February 15, 2022, revealed that transformative justice had a key role to play in South Africa’s banking sector.

“The banks have a case to answer to at the Equality Court as they have violated our Constitutional rights. We will continue with our legal action and will sue for damages of billions of rand to protect our employees, our suppliers and ultimately transformation,” Survé said.

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Survé reiterated that no Sekunjalo company had ever been involved in corruption or money laundering. “This is acknowledged by the banks, but they keep claiming reputational risk, meanwhile they themselves have been implicated.”

Banks are citing media reports and refer to the Mpati Commission to justify their discriminatory actions against Sekunjalo, related companies and Survé.

The establishment’s media proxy has clearly ignored Sekunjalo’s side of the story and the banks’ stance is the negative media reports. Interestingly, they do not take a similar stance to other companies that have been found and reported to be corrupt.

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There are about twenty companies, including Steinhoff, Tongaat Hulett and EOH, which have engaged in accounting fraud, and acknowledged the criminal activities, while some have participated in money laundering, yet their bank accounts and those of their directors remain open. Numerous individual and business entities are on record for having made donations to the CR17 campaign.

Survé said the way the Black-owned Sekunjalo, and related companies are being treated smacked of racism.

“We overcame the previous establishment and its media proxy during apartheid, and we can do it again. We owe it to our 8,000 employees and more than 40,000 livelihoods that will be affected by this anti-transformation move by the establishment,” Survé said.

Do the banks not wish to bank a client that has no debt and has a turnover of more than R8.5 billion? Do banks today recognise the link between their practices and the perpetuation of poverty and racial inequality in South Africa?

Reading the TRC Final Report on the role of business in supporting and enabling the actions of the apartheid state, it is clear that many private sector institutions failed or refused to see the link between their “business activities” and the human rights violations being perpetrated by the state. Do banks today recognise the link between their practices and the perpetuation of poverty and racial inequality in South Africa?

South Africa needs to rise against the financial institutions and fight for the soul of South Africa as we gear up for the next elections.

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