Billions stolen by apartheid regime must be recovered – Mkhwebane

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

CAPE TOWN – ABSA Bank, previously known as Bankorp, contributed to the killing of black people and their oppression by providing billions of rands to the apartheid regime.

This week though, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane issued a proclamation that the South African government is allowed to recover R1,125 billion in “misappropriated public funds” from ABSA Bank.

The proclamation comes after an investigation into a report on apartheid-era looting by UK-based asset recovery agency, CIEX, was submitted to the Public Protector for investigation.

According to Mkhwebane, government and the South African Reserve Bank failed to implement the Ciex report, and ordered that the Special Investigation Unit re-open the case and recover the funds.

The CIEX report alleged that R24 billion was unlawfully given out to Bankorp (which would eventually become a part of Absa) from 1985 to 1992 by the South African Reserve Bank. It then provided Absa with a further R2.25 billion in bailouts from 1992 to 1995.

CIEX was paid 600,000 British pounds for services which were never used by government, the Public Protector said.

Mkhwebane said that two investigations into the matter established that the financial aid given to Bankorp/Absa was irregular, but the correct amount attributable was R1.125 billion.

A preliminary report on the Public Protector investigation was leaked earlier in the year.

At the time Absa responded to the report, saying that the Davis Panel of experts appointed by former South African Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni in 2000 found that Absa’s shareholders did not derive any undue benefit from the Sarb’s intervention, and as such no claim of restitution could be pursued against Absa.

Mkhwebane said that the Reserve Bank must cooperate with SIU in the recovery of the public funds.

Meanwhile, this week the ANC Women’s League and Black First Land First called on Mkhwebane to conduct a full-scale investigation into apartheid-era state looting.

This follows the preliminary report indicating Absa owed R2.25 billion it received as part of an unlawful apartheid-era bailout.

The preliminary report which was leaked to media this past week indicates that over R24 billion was unlawfully given out to Bankorp from 1985 to 1992 by the South African Reserve Bank. It then provided Absa with a further R2.25 billion in bailouts from 1992 to 1995 according to, CIEX.

Even though, Absa was the main focus of the leaked report. The ANCWL has now urged the Public Protector to launch a full scale investigation on the CIEX report so that “all those implicated in the report be brought to book”.

“All beneficiaries of this looting must pay in full and with interests on all that they have looted”, demanded the ANCWL.

This was echoed by Black First Land First who stated it was not just Absa who was implicated in the apartheid-era’s unlawful bailout.

“A report was submitted to former president Thabo Mbeki by a private investigator in the UK, which revealed that he could trace R26 billion stolen by apartheid leaders and placed offshore,” BFLF said.

“We want that R26 billion, because [it] is going to solve a lot issues that are facing the majority, and a lot of issues that characterise the black condition – like the issues of unemployment and free education.” stated BFLF.

Both the ANCWL and BFLF have reportedly made an official submission to President Jacob Zuma.

They have appealed to the President to institute an inquiry into CIEX, and other cases related to looting of State resources by the apartheid government and Capture of State owned entities.

June 2017
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