ANCYL protests at Absa branch

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - BON­GANI HANS

THE ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal has given Absa an ul­ti­ma­tum of three weeks to start pay­ing back the R2.25 bil­lion bailout it re­ceived from the apartheid gov­ern­ment.

Lead­ers of the league in KZN led a large group of their sup­port­ers in a protest at the bank’s branch in An­ton Lem­bede Street in the Dur­ban CBD yes­ter­day.

The protesters briefly en­tered the bank’s premises, toyi-toy­ing in­side while hold­ing up ban­knotes and shout­ing “Si­funi’mali yethi” – we want our money.

Po­lice of­fi­cers also en­tered the premises but did not at­tempt to re­move the protesters.

Af­ter the protesters moved out of the build­ing, they blocked the en­trance while hold­ing pam­phlets that lashed out at the bank and for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela.

Dur­ing the protest, which lasted for about four hours, branch op­er­a­tions came to halt as cus­tomers were blocked from en­ter­ing, and those who were try­ing to use the ATMs were shouted at.

ANCYL pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary Than­dux­olo Sa­belo said the bank would suf­fer in­def­i­nite dis­rup­tions if it did not pay back the money. He gave Absa op­tions of pay­ing back the money in in­stal­ments.

“If they do not start pay­ing the first in­stal­ment on Fe­bru­ary 15, we will oc­cupy ev­ery build­ing of Absa on the im­por­tant (pay) days – 15th, 25th and the last day of the month,” he said.

There was also pick­et­ing out­side the Absa branches in Ix­opo.

The South African Re­serve Bank gave R300 mil­lion bailout to Bankorp in 1985 and 1986 when it was in fi­nan­cial trou­ble, with a prom­ise to pay it back.

Absa is now be­ing im­pli­cated in the mat­ter as it bought Bankorp in 1992. The loan had never been paid back, and ac­cord­ing to a leaked pub­lic pro­tec­tor pre­lim­i­nary re­port, the bank has to pay back R2.25bn to the state.

Sa­belo called on KZN Premier Wil­lies Mchunu to re­move all pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment ac­counts from Absa, which he la­belled as “devil young peo­ple’s money”.

“We can­not con­tinue work­ing with crim­i­nals who stole the money of poor peo­ple,” Sa­belo said.

He added that the gov­ern­ment should move its ac­counts to Ithala Bank, and that the South African Re­serve Bank should move with speed in grant­ing Ithala a full op­er­a­tional li­cence.

“We also call upon all mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties that are bank­ing with Absa to move their ac­counts to Ithala Bank,” he said.

KZN Absa re­gional ex­ec­u­tive for cus­tomer network Ra­jiv Singh said he would pass the league’s de­mands on to the bank’s na­tional au­thor­i­ties.

“We will re­spond in due course. The other is a sep­a­rate mat­ter, and the bank is co-op­er­at­ing with the pub­lic pro­tec­tor,” he said.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

CALL­ING FOR BOY­COTT: A mem­ber of the ANCYL protests in front of an Absa bank in Dur­ban against the bank al­legedly ben­e­fit­ing from an apartheid-era bailout.

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