Monday, March 4th, 2024

Sekunjalo’s Reaction to Appeal Court Verdict Allowing Nedbank Account Closures

The Sekunjalo group has reacted strongly following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) that allows Nedbank to close the group’s accounts. This verdict, overturning a prior decision by the Equality Court, marks a significant setback for Sekunjalo and its 44 associated companies in their efforts to prevent top South African banks from shutting their accounts.

Initially, the group secured an interim order from the Equality Court against Nedbank, halting the closure of several accounts. However, the SCA’s ruling challenges this decision, criticizing Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo’s judgment and stating that Sekunjalo failed to establish a clear case of unfair racial discrimination.

In response, the Sekunjalo group expressed bewilderment at the ruling and raised concerns about the racial composition of the judges involved. They questioned the uncommon scenario of a panel of five white judges making such a decision in a significant case centered on how South African banks treat customers based on racial classifications.

The crux of Sekunjalo’s argument highlighted differential treatment between their company and several purportedly “white” firms like Steinhoff, EOH, and Tongaat Hulett, whose accounts with Nedbank and other banks remained open. They contested the court’s observations, particularly those implying a lack of conclusive evidence regarding the alleged racial ownership of these companies.

According to Sekunjalo, the judges allegedly overlooked crucial points, including the absence of any financial misconduct on their part, as confirmed in writing by Nedbank. However, the SCA dismissed their application, emphasizing fundamental flaws in Sekunjalo’s case, particularly the lack of factual basis for attributing racial designations to certain companies.

The respondents failed to substantiate their claims, utilizing racial labels without factual support or a comprehensive assessment of factors like the racial composition of management, board, or beneficial shareholders. This discrepancy between claims and evidence formed a pivotal aspect of the court’s decision to dismiss Sekunjalo’s application with costs.

The dispute, involving race-based banking practices, remains a contentious issue amid legal and racial scrutiny, with Sekunjalo expressing disappointment and questioning the court’s approach.