We shut down five Absa branches: Black First Land First protestors
Matthew Savides And Rogan Ward | 2017-01-28 16:28:04.0
Black First Land First protestors picketed outside two Absa branches in Durban on Saturday.
Image by: ROGAN WARD
Nationwide protests over allegations that Absa bank benefited from apartheid-era bailouts resulted in five branches being shut down‚ organisers claimed on Saturday.
The Black First Land First movement on Saturday held pickets across the country over the claims‚ which were revealed in a leaked draft Public Protector report recently. While Absa has denied wrongdoing and said it is working with the Public Protector’s office‚ recommendations in the report suggest the bank could have to pay back some R2.24-billion.
First the ANC Youth League demanded the bank pay back the money on Thursday‚ and on Saturday the Black First Land First movement followed suit.
National leader Andile Mngxitama said on Saturday that the pickets – which were deliberately kept at less than 15 people because that meant organisers did not need police permission for their protests – took place at 50 branches.
“We managed to shut down five branches – two in Polokwane‚ one in Tshwane‚ and two in Johannesburg. By and large‚ the protests were successful‚” he said.
However‚ earlier in the day‚ Absa spokesman Songezo Zibi said about 10 branches were affected by the protests. “What we decided to do was that if they got into a branch but the group was not big enough in terms of numbers and did not disrupt customer services‚ we would let them picket. We haven’t had to close branches as a consequence [of the protests]. There were one or two areas where police had to intervene‚ but there was nothing serious‚” said Zibi.
Youth League members said they were also going to inundate the bank’s call centre asking when the money would be paid back. But Zibi said these calls were equally non-disruptive.
“On Thursday we got about 107 calls out of about 2 600 that day. On Friday‚ we had 11. For today [Saturday] we haven’t had a single report. Maybe they’ll do it later‚” he said.
Mngxitama said the movement would not stop calling on Absa to repay the cash.
“The best course of action from our point of view is that Absa pays back the money without further delay. The evidence [against them] is overwhelming‚” he said.
Zibi said the bank was responding to the draft report and would meet the end of February deadline.
– TMG Digital/The Times