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Probe into alleged discriminatory practices by the banks

Scores of protesters participated in a march to the banking precinct in Sandton City to make their voices heard. They call some of the decisions the banks have made of late racist. Picture: Timothy Bernard-African News Agency(ANA)

Scores of protesters participated in a march to the banking precinct in Sandton City to make their voices heard. They call some of the decisions the banks have made of late racist. Picture: Timothy Bernard-African News Agency(ANA)

Published Mar 7, 2022

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WITH the Competition Commission hearings today, analysts have weighed in on the need for an in-depth probe into alleged discriminatory practices by the banks.

Just last month, the Sekunjalo Group filed a petition with the Equality Court where the company alleges discrimination by various banks following their decision to cut ties with the group. Gardee Godrich Attorneys, representing more than 6000 South Africans, has also applied to intervene in the proceedings, and will seek certification to bring a class action suit against South African banks and financial institutions for alleged racial and other discrimination.

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The Sekunjalo Group has also approached the Competitions Commission to probe alleged collusion between the banks.

Lawyer Zelna Jansen said this system was regarded as "the lesser evil" compared to others.

She said the price of property was so out of reach for many that it is regarded as a norm to obtain a mortgage bond and pay for at least 20 or 30 years.

“Grooming people to behave in a certain way. Get it now and pay later… But in hindsight, did anybody read the fine print?

“If you had, would the banking institution change that standard agreement?” she said.

She said that Covid-19 quickly burst that bubble, leaving many heavily indebted.

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“Of course, those that have, celebrate the capitalist system and guard what they have.

While those that don’t have, will suffer the harsh consequences and trying to get out of it, is rigged with insurmountable hurdles.

“Financial institutions do therefore play a pivotal role in enforcing the capitalist system in South Africa’s economy,” Jansen said.

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Kim Heller, author of No White Lies: Black Politics and White Power in South Africa agrees.

Heller said the sector’s slow pace of transformation hinders the nation’s collective effort to reverse and remedy the historical legacy of economic dislodgement and exclusion of black South Africans.

She said the economic dislocation of black South Africans in current day South Africa is a : “far cry” from the storybook vision of an equitable and just society, as envisaged in the Constitution.

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“For most black South Africans today, the 'do not enter' sign is still very much in place when it comes to meaningful economic access, participation, and ownership,” she said.

Heller said the truth was that the system was flawed because the fundamentals of the sector remain untransformed.

“Access to finance and capital remains a serious impediment. They cannot compete with white individuals and white businesses who have generations of capital, and ready enabling networks and access. The stark reality of the day is that the financial services sector continues to prop up white economic power.

“The question that should be keeping the sector and government awake at night is for how much longer will black South Africans put up with being on the peripheries of their own economy,” Heller said.

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Political Bureau

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