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Khulumani, Barclays and ABSA

Khulumani Support Group welcomes all initiatives that potentially help alleviate poverty in South Africa. The proposed investment by Barclays Bank to become a majority shareholder in ABSA is said to show confidence in the South African economy - but will it definitively contribute to poverty alleviation?

1. Khulumani Support Group welcomes all initiatives that potentially help alleviate poverty in South Africa. The proposed investment by Barclays Bank to become a majority shareholder in ABSA is said to show confidence in the South African economy - but will it definitively contribute to poverty alleviation?

2. There are no guarantees of this given the past track record of these banks in this regard. Is it not actually going to enrich a few already wealthy people, a few highly paid CEOs, and some large corporations, such as Sanlam and Remgro? This proposed massive investment should be transparently coupled with direct and visible strategies to alleviate poverty and should not just enrich shareholders and company directors. 3. Barclays can be said to have profited from torture, non-judicial killings (murders and assassinations), rape, indiscriminate shootings and arbitrary detention (including solitary confinement) during the apartheid years.

4. The profits accrued to Barclays as a result of aiding and abetting the apartheid regime, through loans and investments made to the apartheid government, in the carrying out of gross human rights abuses, cannot be morally condoned - unless it is generally considered acceptable for business to profit from torture and other gross human rights abuses. Khulumani believes that this is not acceptable business practice.

5. The victims and survivors of gross human rights abuses held South Africa spellbound with their oftentimes horrific stories during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. One of the foundations of our democracy was laid as a result of these courageous people making their private pain and grief public knowledge.

6. In the process of telling their stories they forfeited their civil rights to obtain any meaningful compensation from the perpetrators who have been given amnesty. Many of these victims and survivors cling to the very edges of society far from the general public's consciousness. The majority live lives of "quiet desperation" and deep insecurity, struggling to survive from day to day.

7. Those victims and survivors who have succeeded in obtaining well-paid employment in the government and private sectors (including BEE initiatives) seem to have abandoned their "comrades in the struggle."

8. Khulumani Support Group is the national membership organisation of victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights abuses and violations. Khulumani calls on all victims and survivors of apartheid gross human rights violations and abuses, who happen to be ABSA shareholders and/or account holders to consider the following possibilities in making decisions about the impending take over of ABSA by Barclays.

  • Is the money Barclays is bringing into South Africa "blood" money?
  • Was the money now being invested by Barclays in South Africa obtained partly as a result of the human rights violations or abuses suffered by you yourself, your family, or someone you know or knew?
  • Are you yourself willing to profit from money that could possibly have come, even in part, from torture and other human rights violations or abuses?

9. Khulumani Support Group has not given any other organisation the mandate or authority to speak on its behalf. Khulumani is the first-named plaintiff in the "Khulumani et al vs Barclays et al", lawsuit presently being appealed in New York City.

10. For the sake of the victims of apartheid gross human rights violations and abuses, this lawsuit will continue - despite Barclays' massive investment in South Africa.

11. Khulumani calls on all ABSA shareholders and account holders who were themselves (or who have family members or friends who were) victims and survivors of gross human rights abuses to consider very carefully whether or not to support the takeover of ABSA by Barclays.

12. Khulumani also calls on Barclays and ABSA, in what would appear to be a fait accompli, to commit themselves to VEE (victims economic empowerment) as well as to BEE.

Issued by:

Marjorie Jobson
Chairperson Board of Khulumani Support Group

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