Right2Know welcomes the next step of the Public Protector’s much-delayed investigation into apartheid-era looting from the SA Reserve Bank. On Friday it was reported that the Public Protector’s office has finished its preliminary report into Absa’s benefitting from billions in loans made by the Reserve Bank. The Public Protector’s preliminary findings are that Absa should pay up to R2.25billion back to the public purse.
Not only is the Public Protector’s report much delayed, but the saga itself has drawn out since the 1990s, when the Reserve Bank first had an opportunity to fully recover the apartheid-era loans from Absa.
This entire episode underscores how little has been done to uncover apartheid-era corruption and return the proceeds of economic crime under the previous regime, more than two decades later.
Secondly, it is a reminder that two decades into democracy, we still have yet to see the full release of apartheid era secrets – millions of documents from the apartheid regime are still held by departments across government and have yet to be released to the public. In fact, the Reserve Bank currently faces a court challenge for refusing to release its apartheid records to the South African History Archive and the Open Secrets project.
Thirdly, we are reminded of current-day censorship – the issue of Absa’s Reserve Bank loans, and broader evidence of apartheid-era looting, are the subject of the censored documentary Project Spear, which the SABC commissioned and then refused to broadcast in 2012. The SABC even sought a court order gagging filmmaker Sylvia Vollenhoven from ever distributing the film, or using the footage in any way. If the SABC had not done a cover-up of its own documentary, millions of South Africans would know about this story already.
- We call for the speedy finalisation and public release of the Public Protector’s report!
- Absa should pay back all moneys owed to the public coffers!
- We demand investigation and prosecution on apartheid-era and present-day corruption!
- We demand the full release of the millions of apartheid documents buried in government archives – no more secrets!
Despite the SABC’s court gag, the public can view versions of the Project Spear film here:
- Version 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEp8622lfCg
Version 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1FYEAySTXk
For comment please contact:
Busi Mtabane, R2K spokesperson: 083 329 7844
Michael Marchant, Open Secrets researcher: 082 772 2936