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  • Written by  www.timeslive.co.za
  • Published in In the News
  • Read 2589 times

GM 'settles' apartheid score

US car giant General Motors has agreed to pay a symbolic sum of up to $1.5-million to victims of South Africa's apartheid-era government, who are suing it and another four companies for helping prop up the white-minority state.

South Africa's Khulumani Support Group lodged a class action lawsuit in the US a decade ago against more than 20 firms it accused of aiding and abetting human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings.

Only five companies - General Motors, which has since filed for bankruptcy, Ford, Daimler, German defence group Rheinmetall and computer giant IBM - still stand accused.

"GM want to carry on with their business in South Africa and want to settle their scores and maintain good relations with the country's people," said Khulumani member Shirley Gunn, who was detained and tortured under the white-minority rule that ended in 1994.

"But we are very grateful and can seriously start to redress the legacy of apartheid."

The company said the settlement was agreed by a trust set up after the company declared bankruptcy in 2009, and as such would be a lot less than $1.5-million.

General Motors also said the settlement contained no admission of wrongdoing and stressed it had "adamantly opposed" apartheid.

However, Khulumani lawyer Charles Abrahams said the payment to more than 20 Khulumani claimants should help their case against the remaining four companies.

"The fact that GM has made a without-prejudice offer to our clients clearly indicates that they acknowledge liability of some sort," Abrahams said.

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