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Independent Media Group Goes to Court Over Standard Bank’s Planned Account Closure

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

In an urgent move to protect over 1000 employees and numerous companies nationwide, Sekunjalo Group seeks an interdict from the Equality Court against Standard Bank's pending closure of its banking accounts. Standard Bank last month declared its resolution to shut the accounts of Sekunjalo, including those of Independent Media, one of the oldest newspaper groups in the country.

The move by the bank followed a judgement by the Competition Appeal Court (CAC) in its favour. The group's accounts would have been closed immediately, however, Sekunjalo launched legal proceedings at the Constitutional Court, which caused Standard Bank to suspend its actions until September 15. By that date, the Competition Commission is expected to conclude its investigations into collusion allegations leveled by the group against the banks.

Sekunjalo has accused the banks of racial discrimination and violating their right to trade. The group also alleges that the closing of media outlets has a direct impact on media freedom.

Dr Iqbal Survé, Sekunjalo chairperson, maintains these attempts by the bank are politically motivated. Survé claims that his businesses, particularly Independent Media, are being targeted because of their exposure of improprieties in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration.

Securing banking services is crucial for these companies to receive advertising and subscriptions, and to make payments. This case brings into sharp focus the ANC-led government’s shortcoming to deliver a state bank, and reform the country's banking sector, which is still dominated by only four banks.

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