Justice for apartheid economic crime: Start with the bankers
Today many civil society organisations jointly call on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to crack down on corporations who assisted the apartheid state and profited from economic crimes under apartheid. To date they have escaped any accountability for their crimes in supporting and sustaining apartheid – a crime against humanity.
We urge the NPA to act without fear or favour in prosecuting networks of economic criminals. This includes those who assisted the apartheid state and profited from the apartheid regime and have been allowed to act with impunity despite the significant human rights abuses they have contributed to.
We therefore support the call made by fellow civil society organisation Open Secrets for prosecutions of apartheid era economic crimes. This detailed evidence was submitted as a memorandum to the NPA on 27 August 2020. It calls on the NPA to prosecute two European banks – KBC Group (previously Kredietbank) and Kredietbank Luxembourg (KBL, as of January 2020, Quintet Private Bank). The two banks were effectively responsible for channelling as much as R350 billion (over $20billion) through a global money-laundering scheme. This network was used to secretly buy weapons, despite mandatory UN arms sanctions against apartheid South Africa.
Without the support of these banks and other South African financial institutions, the apartheid state would not have been able to procure the arms and weapons needed to enforce, maintain and implement its policy of apartheid, which constitutes a ‘crime against humanity’.
An important component of accountability is combating impunity and dismantling the networks and institutions responsible for corporate crime, as there is a link between the institutions that perpetrated these crimes in the past and those responsible for state capture today. Holding these instrumental actors to account, including through prosecution, is a critical step to restoring the Rule of Law in our country today.
We also note that the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) have issued a separate letter today to Adv. Shamila Batohi calling for the NPA to act on this evidence. We recognise that the TRC, in its final report in 2003, called on the NPA to pursue perpetrators not awarded amnesty through a process of ‘bold prosecutions’ of apartheid crimes. This has not happened, in large part because of political interference in the NPA’s work under previous administrations. It is for this reason that prosecutions against these economic criminals and other apartheid era human rights violators would send a clear signal that the NPA stands firm against impunity.
South Africa faces many pressing problems today, including the profiteers of Covid-19 relief and the legacy of recent state capture networks. The corrupt corporations and politicians who profit from these deals have caused pain and suffering to the South African people. They have made us poorer, more unequal and taken away jobs. The legacy of apartheid era economic criminals is no less severe and important and we demand that the NPA prosecutes these actors without fear or favour. This is a necessary and urgent step towards social justice.
The South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ) – endorsed by friends of SACTJ and the following organisations:
1. Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS)
2. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
3. Foundation for Human Rights (FHR)
4. Human Rights Media Centre (HRMC)
5. Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR)
6. Khulumani Support Group (KSG)
7. (Open Secrets)
8. South African History Archives (SAHA)
9. Violence Prevention Agency (VPA)
Additional civil society endorsements:
10. Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)
11. Corruption Watch (CW)
12. International Labour Research and Information Group (ILRIG)
13. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)
14. Legal Resources Centre (LRC)
15. My Vote Counts (MVC)
16. Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA)
17. Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI)
18. Section27 (S27)
19. Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
20. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
21. Shadow World Investigations (SWI)
22. Unpaid Benefits Campaign (UBC)