First National Bank (FNB) has shut down the bank account of a group who has been raising funds to assist Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her legal battles after a series of adverse judgments against her.

It’s been reported that FNB’s head of “desirability management” for commercial clients, informed Democracy in Action’s chairperson Thabo Mtsweni about shutting down the accounts via a letter.

“FNB has now elected to exercise its contractual right to terminate its banking relationship with you and this letter serves as notification of such termination in relation to the accounts. You are therefore urged to please visit the nearest FNB Branch to close all your FNB accounts by 14:00 on 19 November 2020 (the ‘Termination Date’).”

Mkhwebane’s mounting legal woes

Mtsweni said the organisation had used the account to settle R238 000 which the Constitutional Court ordered Mkhwebane to pay last year.

He said their group was informed of the closure while people across the country were depositing money to help Mkhwebane settle another personal cost order. This  time in relation to the latest Supreme Court of Appeal’s ruling against her on her Estina Dairy farm appeal.

“As we were still receiving the donations on Monday we got a letter from the bank saying that they are closing down our account. So we think this is politically motivated.”

Mtsweni said Democracy in Action will approach the bank ombudsman to get FNB to explain why they are shutting the accounts, according to IOL. 

FNB spokesperson Nadiah Maharaj said due to client confidentiality, the bank would not provide information.

Support for embattled public protector

The organisation had, within two weeks after it had started fundraising for Mkhwebane, raised more than R107 000.

Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said Mkhwebane had from the beginning made clear that she was never involved in this crowd funding initiative and did not ask for it or for anybody to help her. “Accordingly, Democracy in Action is best placed to comment on the matter as they were the ones involved in the campaign and not the public protector,” he said.

FNB spokesperson Nadiah Maharaj said: “the bank has a responsibility to ensure that its bank accounts are managed in accordance with all relevant laws.”

Transform RSA president Adil Nchabeleng said the unilateral actions of FNB against a black organisation raising funds for a legitimate cause brought into focus how the banks used their oligopoly to fight any actions that sought to advance and protect the transformation agenda.

“Banks cannot be allowed to continue to be a law unto themselves; making decisions that cannot be challenged even when they perpetuate the continued economic subjugation of the majority,.

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Presh JM Reporter

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