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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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Equality Court judgment against Nedbank a step towards victory in our lifetime

Independent Media’s Executive Chairman Dr Iqbal Survé. Picture Ian Landsberg

Independent Media’s Executive Chairman Dr Iqbal Survé. Picture Ian Landsberg

Published Jun 21, 2022


By Masibongwe Sihlahla

June 17, 2022, will go down as a landmark judgment in the history of this country, in the fight for justice and freedom.

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I get the impression though, that not many of our country’s esteemed media are realising the true impact of Judge Dolamo’s ruling, which found that Sekunjalo has been discriminated against and that gave Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, and several companies associated to the company (the Sekunjalo Group), the right to proceed to a main hearing in the Equality Court, in a matter that is challenging South Africa’s banking cartel.

Since 1994, we have had political freedom but it’s no secret that political freedom for most of this country is meaningless if it still goes hand in hand with economic captivity.

Since the dawn of democracy, the poor have in fact, become poorer. This is a direct result of our people not being economically emancipated, as our economy remains firmly in the hands of what is capped as white minority capital (WMC).

Yet, there is hope. Visionaries like Dr Iqbal Survé, are speaking up and speaking out against this status quo, and transforming the landscape through meaningful broad based black economic empowerment, such as putting the means of production and media in the hands of the victims of apartheid and giving them a voice and a platform to raise the real issues of the day.

This has not necessarily won Dr Survé any friends in WMC circles or their supporters, as evidenced by the continual attacks on him, his companies and projects associated to him, with the aim of derailing his mission, which is to see Madiba’s wish for the people to be freed from political and economic oppression.

Part of this economic freedom that needs to take place, is in how South Africa’s banking fraternity, also a symbol of WMC, treat the South African majority.

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For instance, how the National Credit Act is subverted to oust people from their homes for a paltry debt. People who have paid off their houses for over 30 years lose their homes for a debt of R3 000, for example.

It has been near impossible for our people to challenge the banks, as our people simply do not have the means to wage a legal battle with these institutions and their legal hounds, which leads to cases where houses have been sold in execution for as little as R10.

The banks have also taken it upon themselves to decide who can have a banking account and who may not.

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And, when someone, like a Dr Survé, is a thorn in the side of WMC and starts gaining traction for his opinions, the best way to silence him is to prevent him from trading – ergo, close bank accounts.

Dr Survé and Sekunjalo’s current battle with the banks, is not just about their right to trade though, they represent every South African who has been unfairly discriminated against by these institutions and their Regulators.

It is a supreme insult to the thousands who died fighting apartheid, that State institutions like FICA, instead of protecting the poor, have been used to harass Sekunjalo.

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I, personally, (and I am not alone) thank Dr Survé for standing up to what amounts to state sponsored intimidation and for fighting the good fight on our behalf. Through his efforts, and others like him, we, the people of South Africa might have a chance to assist this country to grow economically and morally, to embody what Madiba fought and died for.

The Equality Court ruling that granted Sekunjalo its interdict against Nedbank, will now become part of case law as it will set the standard for similar cases in future.

Judge Dolamo ruled that Section 9 of the South African Constitution provides that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefits of the law. This, in essence, mandates against unfair discrimination. This translates into real protection for the people who never had the means to protect themselves from the rich and powerful banks.

It is a travesty that those who purport to be consumer protectors and other state institutions also purporting to fight for the rights of consumers, have failed consumers miserably in real terms. It is also tragic that the mainstream media in South Africa, have not picked up the baton to champion the cause of their readers…

** Masibongwe Sihlahla is an independent writer. He writes in his personal capacity.

** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Independent Media/IOL