SARB and PA seek to have Sekunjalo Equality Court bid thrown out

Outside view building of South African Reserve Bank in Pretoria. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/ African News Agency (ANA)

Outside view building of South African Reserve Bank in Pretoria. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 30, 2024


Cape Town - A slew of allegations, including that international banks had a close relationship with the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and Prudential Authority (PA), which are accused of flagging the accounts of the Sekunjalo Group, came under the spotlight in the Western Cape High Court under the Equality Court yesterday.

This comes as the SARB and PA argued for an interlocutory (interim) application for the dismissal of a complaint brought against them by Sekunjalo and its chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé, alleging that the statutory bodies contravened sections 24(1) and 25(1)(c)(i) of the Equality Act.

The matter involves allegations of unfair discrimination by banks in South Africa, including Standard Bank, Absa Bank, FNB and Nedbank, which have embarked on a process to close the bank accounts of the Sekunjalo Group and related companies, affecting about 8 500 employees.

In its litigation against the banks, Sekunjalo drafted a supplementary statement seeking an order declaring that the SARB and the PA have contravened sections of the Equality Act, in that the state had a duty and responsibility to protect and promote equality and develop plans to address unfair discrimination.

In the Equality Court sitting in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, advocate Geoffrey Budlender SC, for the SARB and PA, argued that Sekunjalo had to provide prima facie evidence to support its claims against the SARB and PA.

He said Sekunjalo’s case was built on allegations which should be struck out because they were “hearsay” and vexatious.

“Simply no evidence at all is put up by the complainants that the SARB or the PA interfered in the relationships of the relevant companies with the respondent banks,” read Budlender’s heads of argument.

“The PA has no power to interfere in the relationship between a bank and its customers, let alone to instruct a bank to terminate its services to its customers.

“We emphasise the failure of the complainants to provide evidence by a competent witness of primary facts which result in a prima facie case.

“Instead, they rely on conclusory contentions and assertions by a deponent (Dr Survé) who does not have personal knowledge of the facts on which he bases those contentions and assertions,” the SARB and PA argument reads.

Sekunjalo argues that the evidence will be presented during trial.

The matter continues today, with counsels for Sekunjalo expected to elaborate on its case.

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Cape Argus