The South African government's opposition to the US-based apartheid reparation lawsuits formed a substantial part of the argument yesterday by lawyers for multinational companies that the cases should be dismissed.
Abstracts from article:
The 19 companies named in the lawsuit filed a motion asking Judge John E Sprizzo of the Southern District Federal Court of New York to dismiss the case, which is asking for about R250bn in punitive damages.
Lawyers for the companies argued that SA had a comprehensive programme in place to address the legacy of apartheid, which included laws mandating affirmative action and training programmes, as well as the reallocation of national resources, making it unnecessary to turn to a foreign court for assistance.
The lawsuits would "frustrate SA's efforts to address the effects of apartheid in the manner carefully selected by its citizens' democratically selected representatives".
Lawyers argued that a court did not have the right to undermine a decision by the US government, which had opted for a policy of constructive engagement during the apartheid years rather than sanctions.
They also argued that the link between the companies and the apartheid victims was too tenuous to hold up in court. The victims never had anything to do with the majority of the companies cited.
The claimants argued that the law accepted secondary liability and that the multinational companies did not "have to participate in, or even know about, the specific bad acts".
- Source: Full article "SA's view of reparations cases cited" appeared on the Business Day bday.co.za website