Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - First National Bank (FNB) on Thursday welcomed the judgment delivered by the Equality Court to dismiss the matter relating to allegations of racial discrimination on interest rates by Saambou Bank.

On Wednesday, the court dismissed the matter in its entirety, including the complainant's application to amend their declarations.

Private financial consultant, Emerald Van Zyl, took the matter to court alleging that more than 4 000 primarily black customers with mortgages were charged 30 percent or more on their home loans. 

Van Zyl has been waging a legal fight against South African banks for more than a decade. The allegations were first dismissed in 2013 by the North Gauteng High Court. 

At the time, the North Gauteng High Court found that, after all the evidence had been led and all witnesses cross-examined, the claims that Saambou charged black people higher interest rates than white people were “completely unfounded”.

Lee Mhlongo, chief executive of FNB Home Finance, said they were vindicated by the Equality Court ruling.

"We've always maintained that the callous use of racial allegations is irresponsible and unacceptable. There has never been any evidence to suggest that race played any role in Saambou’s determination of interest rates for its customers," Mhlongo said.

Van Zyl was not immediately available for comment. FNB took over the home loans Saambou Bank after it was placed in the hands of a curator in September 2002, and later folded. 

"As a responsible corporate citizen, FNB has been and will always remain committed to ensuring that customers are treated fairly," Mhlongo said.

African News Agency/ANA