Naspers must fulfil its reparative, BEE, promise

Posted on:
8 Jan 2016
Class Action
Posted by:

I’m one of more than 100 000 black people who invested into the so-called broad based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) initiative of Media24, a division of global media giant Naspers. At establishment in 2006, Naspers/Media24 made all sorts of promises in enticing us to invest into the Media24 BBBEE scheme called, Welkom Yizani. The key pillar of this scheme was a pledge by Naspers/Media24 to contribute into redressing apartheid injustices as suffered by black South Africans. This I believed was a powerful gesture from a company that was made out of the blood and sweat of black people. Naspers is very much a direct product of the white supremacist brotherhood, known as the Broederbond. Naspers has since expressed an intention to break away with its past by embracing the post 1994 non-racialism and committed itself to the redress agenda. The CEO of Naspers subsidiary Media24, Esmare Weideman, has apologised for the company’s role during the apartheid era. She has been quoted widely saying: “We acknowledge complicity in a morally indefensible political regime and the hurtful way in which this played out in our newsrooms and boardrooms”. Naspers/Media24 BBBEE pledge was received by multitudes within the context of a pledge by the company to contribute into fixing the wrongs of the apartheid past. But then the Welkom Yizani scheme has turned out to be another chapter of robbery against poor black people. The Welkom Yizani scheme is supposed to hold 15% economic interest in the print media business, Media24. Black people were invited to subscribe for tradeable units in Welkom Yizani for R10 per share in 2006. The Welkom Yizani share has been stuck at R10 per share which means investors in the scheme have lost money. Some investors have sold their shares at prices far below R10. This is not what we bargained for. I think we have been taken for a ride. What are our rights? Is there no basis for legal action to force Naspers into fulfilling a reparative promise?

4 Responses

  1. Marc

    I am upset since years about the share price too, but whenever I investigated I was brushed off with a “we do not control supply and demand (the market)”.

    So I wonder on what grounds there can be any legal action and who will initiate it?

  2. Pro F

    You might be well advised to look overseas for a lawyer and for a legal solution. It’s been proven time and again that South African lawyers are hopelessly uneducated if not incompetent when it comes to matters like these, class action type matters. I bet you that many South African lawyers would have dismissed the workers who suing the gold miners in the silicosis case were largely dismissed as dreamers by local lawyers. But look where the matter is now. Thanks to a contingent of overseas and mainly American activist lawyers.
    Im no lawyer but some similar ground for abused black investors to shop for lawyers and a court overseas. This is largely pinned on the globalisation of the Naspers business. A closer look on how this business is organised might reveal a legal channel to take up this matter in places like the US where the legal system allows for the hearing of international human rights cases in American courts. This is done under the Alien Tort Statute.

  3. Trish

    I think someone must take the responsibility of tabling this on the desk of the Black Lawyers Association and lets here what them say.

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