Plaintiffs in the South Africa Apartheid Litigation celebrate a great victory as the United States Government asks that the appeals by the defendant corporations be dismissed.
The United States government has told the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York that the appeal by the defendants to dismiss the South Africa Apartheid Litigation (Sakwe Balintulo et al. v. Daimler AG, et al.) – the combined “Khulumani” and “Ntsebeza” lawsuits, should be dismissed on the basis of a lack of jurisdiction.
The U S government has expressed its opposition to the motion of the defendants, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, International Business Machines, General Motors Corporation and Rheinmetall AG, in the Second Circuit Court of Appeal to dismiss the case.
In its Amicus letter, the U S government has expressed its disapproval of the defendant corporations deigning to speak on behalf of the United States government when they urge the court to dismiss the case on the basis of United States foreign policy and international relations. The US government has stated very clearly that only it, and not the defendants' lawyers, may make any definitive statement about US policy in the court.
This position highlights the fact that governments and corporations have different roles and responsibilities – a reality that has too often been blurred in the past as multinational corporations have tended to wield greater economic power and influence than many governments.
Too often, it has been the demands of these corporations that have received precedence over the needs and priorities of ordinary citizens, and especially of the citizens who are harmed where particular companies have been complicit in aiding and abetting the perpetration of human rights violations, such as is asserted in the South Africa Apartheid Litigation.
The South Africa Apartheid Litigation will come before the Second Circuit Court of Appeal on January 6, 2010. If the court dismisses the appeal application of the defendant companies on that occasion, one more attempt by the defendant corporations to have the case dismissed, will have been overcome in the long struggle to bring the case to trial.
On April 8, 2009, Judge Scheindlen expressed the opinion that there should be no further delays in bringing the case to trial. She asserted that this case takes forward the important work of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and in no way conflicts with its objectives.
Victims of apartheid atrocities welcome the U S government's position and its potential to open the way for the South Africa Apartheid Litigation to proceed in the Southern District Court in New York.? It is a further step in the long march of plaintiffs to achieve victims' justice.
For futher comment, please contact:
Dr Marjorie Jobson, National Director, Khulumani Support Group: 082 268 0223
Mr Charles Abrahams, Attorney for Khulumani Support Group: 082 560 7152
Mr John Ngcebetsha, Attorney, Ntsebeza plaintiffs: 082 335 4189