Standard Bank has issued a notice to close the bank accounts of Independent Media Group in 20 days.
- This follows a judgment by the Competition Appeal Court in favor of Standard Bank over the interim relief granted previously.
- The interim relief had forced Standard Bank to keep Independent Media’s accounts running pending the final judgment.
- Independent Media described Standard Bank’s decision as disturbing. They have not defaulted on payments or done anything criminal.
- Independent Media is discussing taking the matter to the Constitutional Court but that will be a long process.
- Independent Media’s editor in chief Aziz Hartley said Standard Bank’s decision amounts to an abuse of power and could destroy Independent Media and shut down media freedom.
- Standard Bank welcomed the Competition Appeal Court’s ruling that they had not been involved in any anti-competitive behavior.
- Shutting the bank accounts could result in 1,600 employees of Independent Media, South Africa’s largest media conglomerate, losing their jobs.
- President Ramaphosa has pleaded for media freedom as crucial for democracy but banks have not protected media freedom.
- Independent Media operates various newspaper titles and radio stations and employs thousands of people.