The issue of apartheid reparations by big business could be settled by dialogue instead of court battles, said the Anglican Church and non-goverment bodies on Thursday. They called on South African and foreign corporations being sued for reparations to enter into discussion with bodies representing victims of apartheid.
Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane said legal complaints were simply formal mechanisms to lodge a grievance. "These grievances can be taken up and resolved without costly and extended court proceedings," he said.
Jubilee SA, a coalition of non-government bodies campaigning for reparations, agreed. "We urge the corporations to engage with the victims of apartheid in whose name lawsuits have been filed," it said. "Such engagement will go a long way to avoid the negative consequences of long legal battles."
Jubilee SA said court action should be a last resort if business failed to respond adequately. Claims filed against mining, oil giants United States lawyer Ed Fagan said last week he intended filing a suit in a US court on behalf of apartheid victims for damages of up to $6.1bn (about R48bn) against mining giant Anglo American and De Beers diamond company.
Anglo has rejected the lawsuits. At the weekend, a claim of $1bn (about R8bn) was filed against oil company Sasol and Fluor International. A number of multinational corporations and international banks have been hit with similar lawsuits.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in its final report last month a case could be made for such claims.