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Asmal's loyalty to comrades questioned

Note: The following article in the Cape Argus conveys a response from Professor Asmal to Khulumani's outrage at his support for the defendants in the Apartheid Litigation in New York:

Former education minister and anti-apartheid activist Kader Asmal has dismissed as "disgusting" allegations that he is siding with multinational corporations being sued in an international lawsuit brought by apartheid victims.

On Monday, under the headline "We thought Kader is still a Cadre?", Khulumani slammed Asmal on their website for becoming a friend of the court "on the side of the defendant companies".

However Asmal vehemently countered the perception that he is acting on the part of multinational corporations.

Former education minister and anti-apartheid activist Kader Asmal has dismissed as "disgusting" allegations that he is siding with multinational corporations being sued in an international lawsuit brought by apartheid victims.

The case, which came before a New York district court on Monday, was instituted by South African victims of apartheid atrocities with the assistance of the Khulumani Support Group, against multinationals who allegedly profited from doing business with the apartheid government.

The corporations are spread across five industries from six different countries - Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, France and the US - and they are alleged to have provided arms, ammunition, military
technology and financing to the apartheid government, as well as fuel and transportation to police and military forces.

In late December, several international law professors - including Asmal - filed papers as friends of the court to address the "non-existence" of corporate liability in international law.

Citing international precedent, the professors said there was a "complete absence of decisions imposing civil or criminal liability", "particularly in any circumstance relevant to the claims at issue here".

"Decisions relevant to the question before this Court only affirm the conclusion that customary international law does not extend to corporations," they argued.

As a result, they supported the request by the defendants - including Daimler, General Motors, Ford, IBM and Rheinmetall- for the case to be dismissed.

But on Monday, under the headline "We thought Kader is still a Cadre?", Khulumani slammed Asmal on their website for becoming a friend of the court "on the side of the defendant companies".

"Why on God's earth can you oppose your fellow comrades and thousands of victims' struggle for justice and reparations," the group asked.

However Asmal vehemently countered the perception that he is acting on the part of multinational corporations.

Asmal told the Cape Argus that he had agreed with the previous (Mbeki) government's position that the class action should not be heard in the US, and that the friends of the court supported the view that it was a "gross
impertinence" for the case to be decided there.

"It is an insult for American courts to try this," he said, adding that it was a matter for South Africa to resolve.

"The applicants may insult me as they have done, but all I am saying is South Africa, a sovereign state, must deal with the issue inside the country."

This breaking news flash was supplied exclusively to iol.co.za by the news desk at our sister title, the Cape Argus.

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