Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan accused banks and financial institutions of seeking to maximise profits at all costs, The Star reported on Wednesday.
Addressing a two-day conference on financial literacy in Pietermaritzburg, Gordhan urged South Africans to strive towards financial literacy so they could see when they were being hoodwinked by banks into unsustainable financial deals and products.
Banks played a role in the 2008 financial meltdown by offering mortgage loans to people who could not afford to repay them. South Africa lost millions of jobs and R60 billion. The country was still trying to recover from the crisis.
He accused Barclays Bank in London of manipulating interest rates, "so that they could make more money for themselves and for the bank".
"The Barclays saga of the last few days illustrates brilliantly the fault lines in the banking sector," Gordhan said.
"It illustrates dishonesty, manipulation of prices and information, profiteering at any cost, and little regard to the ordinary people and the cost to them. People think they can play games and be the only ones who benefit."