Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (SIH) chairman Dr Iqbal Survé, has called on South Africans who have fallen victim to exorbitant interest rates charged by the country’s financial institutions, and who are suffering because of the repossession of their properties by banks, to join his class-action suit instead of suffering in silence.
Survé voiced this call to action during an interview with online discussion platform, Insight Factor, which broadcasts to the world through its Twitter account.
He said those who had lost their homes and cars through repossession, as a result of unaffordable interest rates on bonds and credit loans, should join the class-action suit being led by Gardee Godrich Attorneys.
By February, more than 6000 people had joined the proceedings instituted by Survé and 42 others at the Western Cape Equality Court. The alleged victims are people who have been over-billed on interest on their mortgages, while others have had their bank accounts arbitrarily terminated due to their purported reputational risk, or otherwise, to the banks.
The Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) had in 2020 received more than 7 000 complaints against the banks, which according to its annual report, “was a significant increase in cases for most banks from 2019 to 2020.” Of those cases, 7% were about car finance and 8% for mortgage finance. The report did not categorise cases according to the race of the complainants.
A human rights lobby group, Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation, revealed in 2018 that it had dealt with cases where houses belonging to the poor were sold at auction for as little as R10.
The sale in execution (SIE) had, in the main, been because of defaulting on a mortgage repayment after which a default judgment had been taken out against them – leaving them none the wiser in the process.
Social justice activist and leader of the Johannesburg-based activist group, King Sibiya, has vowed to fight against South Africa’s banking sector for as long as he lives, to get justice for homeowners whose properties are repossessed and sold for next to nothing.
In 2018, the Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation cited court papers, in the South Gauteng High Court, that a woman known as Mapule Molokomme was aggrieved after her home was sold at auction for only R10. The new owner then went on to sell the property for a bigger profit.
Sibiya said: “Our courts are not on our side. They are on the banks’ side. There is no judge who can order that a house should be sold for R10, but that has happened before in our courts. Something is not right. There have been properties sold, even after the banks issued letters that they were paid up. The banks often justify the situation by saying that it was caused by an error within the banking system. How do you address it?”
Meanwhile, Survé said the banks’ racial discriminatory practices have resulted in South Africa being ranked as the most unequal country in the world. This as the country’s financial institutions appeared unwilling to support black people, poor people, black professionals, or black entrepreneurs.
“All of you, if you have been discriminated against by these banks, if they charge you too much interest rates … if they have taken your home and car from you, if they have not treated you fairly, then join the class-action suit. The only way we are going to change this country is to challenge these oligopolies,” he said.
Referring to the slavery of Africans in bygone years, he observed: “Banks are today’s slave traders and masters, they are simply trying to use reputational risk in order to have power, to enslave us again.”
Survé has gone to the Competition Tribunal and Equality Court to force a group of major banks to overturn their decision to “unbank” Sekunjalo and related entities’ bank accounts, which has been perpetrated without providing proof that he or companies in the commonly known, Sekunjalo Group, had committed any wrongdoing.
He said the banks’ decision was based on systematic racism and that their oligopoly is based on their belief that they are powerful and untouchable.
Survé expressed displeasure at the fact that the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), which is supposed to be regulating the banks, is still one of the very few in the world that is not owned by the state. It remains owned by private shareholders.
He said while the SARB was supposed to be supervising the banks, there was a conflict of interest as the banks themselves are shareholders in the central bank.
“We have a crazy situation here, whereby the SARB, which is supposed to be owned by our government, is owned by Absa, Investec, FNB (among others). Now, what is going on over there? How can you be a player and referee at the same time?
“We are doomed as South Africans if we allow the situation to continue. If we don’t call for the reserve bank to have greater accountability to our country and its democracy and its people,” he said.
[email protected] | https://falcons.org.za/
If you have been a victim of bank discrimination and want to join the #RightToBank class action suit, contact Gardee Godrich Attorneys.