Business Maverick


Sekunjalo plays the race card after appeal court judges find Nedbank can close the group’s accounts

Sekunjalo plays the race card after appeal court judges find Nedbank can close the group’s accounts
Sekunjalo Group chair Iqbal Survé. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lerato Maduna) | Nedbank Group logo. (Photo: Dean Hutton / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Central to Sekunjalo’s case was the distinction it made between how it had been treated, and how several ‘white’ companies had been treated.

The Sekunjalo group has responded with outrage to a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) finding that will effectively allow Nedbank to close the accounts of the group. This comes after a full bench of South Africa’s second-highest court of appeal excoriated a finding made by the Equality Court. 

The finding constitutes a huge legal setback for the Sekunjalo group and its 44 associate companies, which has been conducting a four-year legal campaign to prevent a host of SA’s top banks from closing its accounts. 

The group was initially successful in gaining an interim order against Nebank at the Equality Court preventing the bank from closing several accounts. 

The finding of the SCA reverses this decision and sharply criticises the judgment of Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo, saying the court should have dismissed the application in the first place because Sekunjalo had never established a prima facie case of unfair racial discrimination.

In response, the Sekunjalo group said it was “dumbfounded” by the ruling and questioned the race of judges in the case, saying it was “highly unusual” that a panel of five white judges should come to this decision in this “landmark case” about how SA’s banks treat customers differently according to their racial classification.

“Not to impugn the integrity of these judges, but it is highly unusual and especially so given that every other case at the SCA on the day that this matter was heard, had been presided over by a bench fully representative of South Africa. Why not this matter?”

Central to Sekunjalo’s case was the distinction it made between how it had been treated, and how several “white” companies had been treated, including Steinhoff, EOH and Tongaat Hulett, whose bank accounts with Nedbank and other banks remained open.

The judgment contains “some obtuse observations”, Sekunjalo said, including one claiming that Sekunjalo had not conclusively proven that EOH, Tongaat Hulett and Steinhoff – whom it cited as being treated differently – were in fact white-owned. 

“Sekunjalo contends that the judges did not apply their minds to this point at all.”

Sekunjalo had not been found to be suspected of any financial misconduct, the Sekunjalo statement said. 

“Indeed, Nedbank, in writing, confirmed that Sekunjalo had not been found to have done anything wrong. Thus, there is no need for Sekunjalo to take any corrective action. This was also ignored by the SCA.”

Dismissed with costs

However, in dismissing the application with costs, acting Supreme Court of Appeal judge Raylene Keightley said there were fundamental inadequacies in the respondents’ case. 

The respondents – the Sekunjalo group – applied the racial designation of “white” or “white-dominated” to Steinhoff, EOH and Tongaat “without any underlying factual basis to support that designation”.

“In their submissions, the respondents contended that the race profile of a company must be determined by considering factors such as the racial composition of its senior management, its board of directors and its beneficial shareholders.

“However, the affidavits filed in support of the application were devoid of any reference to these factors, let alone an evaluation, based on them, of the alleged ‘white companies’ identified.

“These companies [also] did not pose the same reputational risk as the respondents. This was because, unlike the respondents, they had all been restructured following the adverse findings against them; they had acknowledged their past wrongdoing; those implicated had been dismissed or resigned; new management was in place and other remedial actions had been undertaken.”

In contrast, its interaction with the respondents demonstrated that they had sought to downplay the seriousness of the Mpati Commission’s adverse findings and comments directed at the Sekunjalo Group and its founder, Dr Iqbal Survé.

“Effectively, the respondents’ case rested on no more than an assumption of racial designation” and the Equality Court had “inexplicably” reversed the onus of proof, the unanimous judgment found.

The Sekunjalo’s group application to the Competition Commission against several other banks has also failed, but it has now announced that it intends to take these cases to the Constitutional Court. 

Some of the group’s bank accounts remain open pending that court’s finding.

Absa, FNB, Investec and Mercantile Bank all started the process of closing the accounts in 2020, and, reportedly, a total of 28 banks and representative offices of foreign banks have turned down Sekunjalo’s business, making the banking sector’s boycott very nearly universal. 

The companies involved in the battle include JSE-listed African Equity Empowerment Investments, Premier Fishing and AYO Technology Solutions. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Mr Suurvy

  • Bob Kuhn says:

    Pay back the PIC money!

  • Iam Fedup says:

    When all else fails, use the race club. You
    Mention a handful of banks doing the same for a handful of crooked companies, but it’s just far too little, far too late. When Ramaphosa and the 4 million thieves run out of couches to store their stolen money, perhaps that’s when things will start to change.

  • Margi Jensen says:

    This company and it’s owner has done extensive damage to the press in SA. IOL has lost credibility.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    The go-to position of these racist thieves when they don’t get their own way – play the race card. This odious sleazeball, masquerading as a struggle stalwart and victim is nothing but a common thief who has stolen millions and destroyed a one-time great newspaper like the Cape Times. He should be jailed and his assets seized so that the money can be paid back!!

  • J vN says:

    And in the background, little Icky Bal is giggling maniacally, preparing his exit to Dubai.

  • Con Tester says:

    An article posted at IOL about an hour ago, titled “Sekunjalo shocked at SCA’s decision to allow Nedbank to close company’s accounts” under the byline “Staff Reporter” (but likely penned by Iqbal “You *MUST* call me ‘Doctor’” Survé’s arch-bulldog, Adri Senekal de Wet), concludes with the following whiny quote from a statement by Sekunjalo following the SCA’s ruling:

    “In light of the above, together with other clearly disregarded facts, the decision by the SCA is unreasonable and irrational. There is zero justice in Nedbank, or any other bank, destroying the businesses that are impacted by these decisions.

    “Sekunjalo is hopeful the Concourt will consider the apparent discrimination against it, especially against the backdrop of Nedbank’s own admission in writing that the group had not committed anything wrong.”

    King-of-all-I-Survé it seems hasn’t bothered to absorb the finer legal points of the judgement, choosing instead to rehash the same failed arguments.

  • Alley Cat says:

    KRY VIR JOU!!!!

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    “The group had not committed anything wrong…” No, not at all!!! The fact that the deal was misrepresented and totally overstated, and then misappropriated by millions if not billions is all in order in the minds of these rapacious crooks. In a gangster and criminal state that SA has become under the vile anc, one can clearly see that theft, corruption and fraud is standard practice, with zero accountability and consequences.

  • Peter Worman says:

    Gotta give Surve a heads up for perseverance. Has he paid back the PIC who lent him some small change to buy that ailing newspaper group?

  • Donald bemax says:

    Well Dr Oddball has a record of playing the racial card for his own benefit.. might I remind the editor that back in the day of the collapse of Health and Racquet Club (often referred to as the Constantia Health Wealth and Rolex Club) he managed to skip jail time by playing the race card whilst his two white co-directors sat behind bars in Paarl.

  • Gary De Sousa says:

    The quicker the better

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Too funny – the well worn …and thoroughly boring race card

  • Tim Price says:

    When the CC kicks out the inevitable appeal , I wonder who he will whine to next? Maybe then it will be off to Dubai.

  • Michael Thomlinson says:

    How DID Eyeball manage get his hands on PIC money? Well we can see what happened in the case of Vuyani Hako: I would assume that he arranged a big loan for a company and he got a R4.5 mil kickback. So who did Eyeball pay off?
    The MO is always the same for these guys – set up a bribe to a deployee who has no scrupples or conscience and get the money. Will you get caught? Maybe but hey what the hell, you can hire some fancy lawyers to litigate until the cows come home. And if you spend 30% on lawyers and litigation and keeping out jail then that is a bargain.

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Pay back the money

  • Johan Buys says:

    Well, I just hope that along the way the courts ordered preservation of ALL banking records ad infinitum. SARS and NPA will need those records, eventually.

    Starting points are the BIG figures distributed to pay dividends to and to buy related party companies.

    Which boards and auditors signed off those accounts?

  • Trenton Carr says:

    Bicycle face slowly learning the consequences of his actions.

  • Michael Clark says:

    The man is out of control. Bye the bye, any news on the 10 babies he says were sold into slavery and the video about the decuplets was imminent? The sooner IOL closes the richer the poor who ultimately pay for their rags from their meagre pensions.

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