Cape Town – Standard Bank has reportedly issued a notice to sever its relationship with one of South Africa’s oldest publishers Sekunjalo Group’s Independent Media.
According to Fin24, the bank said its decision came after it had conducted a comprehensive client review.
“In reaching this decision, Standard Bank considered a number of factors related to the Sekunjalo Group, some of which are in the public domain, and applied its risk management principles against which all prospective and existing clients are evaluated and assessed. As part of the client review process, Standard Bank also provided the Sekunjalo Group with numerous opportunities to respond to various concerns that had been identified,” said the bank as quoted by the report.
Standard Bank was not the first bank to cut ties with the Group. Most of South Africa’s major banks, including Capitec, Absa and Investec had already severed ties with Sekunjalo, saying it was a high-risk client that had been implicated in wrongdoing in the Mpati Commission of Inquiry’s Report into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
Independent Media’s Executive Chairperson, Dr Iqbal Survé said that the Media Group was set to challenge Standard Bank’s decision, according to IOL.
He said that the bank’s move jeopardised the livelihoods of over 1 400 employees as well as media freedom.
The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) also condemned the bank’s decision, claiming that it will have a negative impact on the country’s media freedom and diversity.
“Shutting down a bank account of a media organisation is something that would go against media freedom, it is something that would destroy a media company. I think a decision like that should not be taken lightly. That decision must not just be based on what has been written but must be based on facts and evidence that can be supported in a court of law,” said Sanef’s Media Freedom Committee chairperson, Makhudu Sefara as quoted by the report.
Compiled by Sinothando Siyolo