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Bank cruelty: A gross violation of human rights

According to the country’s laws, banks are supposed to be agents of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB), which as an organ of the state has a legal duty to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the Human Rights Bill.

According to the country’s laws, banks are supposed to be agents of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB), which as an organ of the state has a legal duty to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the Human Rights Bill.

Published May 26, 2022

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The wanton and arbitrary closure of banking accounts of South African citizens by the country’s banking cartel is an egregious violation of the Constitution of South Africa and the inalienable Bill of Rights.

This is according to Thsepo Kgadima, former investment banker; independent economic, and energy and political analyst, who cited sections: 9, 10, 18, 22, 25, 32, 33 and 34 in the Bill of Rights – a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa.

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Kgadima stressed that according to the country’s laws, banks are supposed to be agents of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) which, as an organ of the state has a legal duty to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the Human Rights Bill.

Speaking to Independent Media, the former chairman of the Indian Ocean Rim Business Forum (2017-2019), expressed his disappointment with the country’s mainstream banks’ notice to terminate banking services of the Sekunjalo Group, its chairman Dr Iqbal Survé and related entities.

Sekunjalo, Survé and others are gearing up for a series of legal actions against the country’s banking cartel. The respondents in the matter include Nedbank, Absa Bank, First National Bank, Investec Bank, Sasfin Bank, Bidvest, and Mercantile Bank.

Kgadima made an example of the Net1/Sassa saga: “The Constitutional Court, which is the apex court in South Africa, correctly interpreted the law and ruled in the Net1/Sassa saga that Net1, which is supposedly a private company, was as a matter of course a quasi-organ of state and therefore had to continue providing services, which were by their very nature, falling squarely under the Bill of Rights Chapter 2 of the Constitution, notwithstanding that Net1’s contract with Sassa was unlawful and therefore invalid.

“It is, therefore, a bizarre absurdity for the banking cartel to conveniently plead a ‘bank-client’ relationship in an unlawful attempt to warrant their actions of bank account closures, when in actual fact of law, they are quasi-organs of state.”

Kgadima said it was shocking that SARB had merrily condoned the egregiously unconstitutional conduct of its agents – the banks – hence the urgent need to nationalise SARB and overhaul its system.

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“There can be no doubt whatsoever that a banking account under our country’s Constitution is a property as defined in Section 25(4)(b) and thus any attempt to deprive any person (natural or juristic) this fundamental right, which is constitutionally enshrined, is a repugnant violation which must never be allowed under any circumstances lest it leads to self-help, which is anarchy,” he said.

Kgadima said that the courts failed to intervene in their “night watchmen” duty to thwart the assault and violation of constitutional rights of citizens by the brutal banking cartel.

“A time has come for patriotic constitutional rights activists to rise up to lawfully crush the system of evil personified by the banking cartel.”

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In a country with the highest unemployment rate in the world, more than 40 000 lives are at risk of deterioration of lifestyle, which may force them back into poverty because of the banks’ isolation of around 8 000 employees directly employed by the Sekunjalo Group.

This can be correctly deemed as deliberate negligence and sabotage of humanity, and a violation of human rights – an exercise completely divorced from the fundamental values of human rights as expressed by various scholars below.

Bonita Meyersfield and David Kinley, in their article titled, “Banks and Human Rights: A South African Experiment” published in December 2015, argued that: “Banks often dismiss human rights considerations as the responsibility of states, not private actors.”

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Meyersfield and Kinley asserted that companies with a proven record of violations of human rights were allowed to continue with their banking services without grave repercussions. This was evidenced in the case of the devastating strikes at the Marikana-based Lonmin Platinum Mine on August 16, 2012, which revealed a shuddering fault-line underlying the platinum industry.

Despite the horrific massacre of the workers, banks failed to hold the mine owners accountable for their atrocities, but the same banks were surprisingly quick to punish the Sekunjalo Group for negative media reports that glaringly lack factual evidence.

In his article published on July 9, 2021, titled “Why Central Banks Need to Take Human Rights More Seriously”, Daniel Bradlow wrote: “In principle, banks must take the international human rights commitments of their sovereign into account in the way in which they implement their mandates and conduct their operations.”

A 2021 Global Bank Review published by Global Banks Sector Group also stated that: “Access to finance has the potential to assist in fulfilling a wide range of fundamental human rights. Likewise, the activities of a bank and its value chain can significantly impact a broad range of human rights.”

Undeniably, the termination of the banking services for the Sekunjalo Group will be a violation of the international human rights commitments to advance human dignity and promote financial freedom.

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