Court rules Standard Bank must keep Sekunjalo bank accounts open

Standard Bank’s leave to appeal the September 2023 ruling to keep Sekunjalo’s accounts open has been denied and dismissed with costs.

Standard Bank’s leave to appeal the September 2023 ruling to keep Sekunjalo’s accounts open has been denied and dismissed with costs.

Published Feb 19, 2024


In another triumph for Sekunjalo and its related companies in their long battle against some of South Africa’s biggest banks, Standard Bank’s leave to appeal a former ruling made on September 14, 2023 that prevented it from closing Sekunjalo’s various bank accounts, has been dismissed and with costs.

Judge Judith Cloete heard Standard Bank’s appeal on February 15, as to why her former ruling should not stand and the bank could proceed with closing the accounts of Sekunjalo and its related entities.

She delivered her emphatic judgment on Monday, denying Standard Bank on all five of its grounds for appeal.

In clear and concise points Judge Cloete set out why she did not accept Standard Bank’s version that her order granted in 2023 was final.

She also ruled that the Sekunjalo Group, who have had judgments in favour and against it since she heard the case in 2023, “should be afforded the opportunity to place them, and their respective views on their implications, properly before the court at the next hearing”.

In other words, the Sekunjalo Group should be given the benefit of the doubt to provide evidence of the Group’s claims to be heard in the Equality Court, that it had in fact, established the prima facie basis to do so.

Dr Iqbal Survé, Chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings (SIH), was pleased with the outcome of the ruling.

“The past few years have been a rollercoaster of legal rulings. However, we are all delighted and relieved that we can now continue to go about our business without the immediate spectre of having accounts closed.

“Our main case at the Equality Court is drawing nearer where we will be able to argue and convincingly demonstrate the abject discrimination we have been subjected to by these banks, not just Standard Bank.”

Judge Cloete also ruled that it was not in the interests of justice to grant the bank their appeal, since it; “could have insisted on a much earlier date for this application to be heard.

“Instead it waited for five months into a 12 month period. Second, it was only when I pointed out to its counsel during argument in reply that I could not dictate to the SCA when it should entertain the appeal if leave were to be granted that - suddenly - an undertaking was forthcoming from Standard Bank, despite its dire predictions on irreparable harm, not to close SG's accounts pending any SCA judgment.

“This is unacceptable, and in any event counsel for SG were deprived of any prior notice of this undertaking and thus the opportunity to prepare and deal properly with it.”

Thus, Judge Cloete ruled that the applications for leave to appeal were dismissed with costs, including the costs of two counsel in both case numbers 9318/2022 (Hight Court) and EC0B/2023 (Equality Court).