Wednesday, April 9, 2003

Apartheid Debt and Reparations Campaign

Apartheid Reparation Lawsuits Against South African Corporations are Untimely

Lawyer-led complaints filed in American courts against South African
corporations for apartheid reparations are untimely, Jubilee South
Africa's apartheid debt and reparations campaign said in a statement
issued today.

After thorough consultation over the past two years, the apartheid debt
and reparations campaign believes that a different approach is required to
encourage South African corporations, as compared to foreign corporations,
to repair the persistent social and individual damage done by apartheid.
South African big business was complicit in apartheid and benefited from
apartheid. However, the corporations should at this stage be engaged
through processes of national dialogue in the framework of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations for reparation, rather
than in courts.

Such processes of dialogue should be guided by agreed principles
including:
  • Disclosure of discussions that may be held;
  • Participation of apartheid reparations claimants through their representative organisations.
The apartheid debt and reparations campaign acknowledges and respects the
integrity of the TRC process and expresses its confidence that there is
sufficient pressure to ensure that South African corporations make a
meaningful contribution to apartheid reparation. While there are legal
grounds for reparations claims, court proceedings should be a last resort
only if business fails to respond adequately to a process of dialogue
about their liability for apartheid reparation, as was the case with the foreign
corporations.

Recognising that South African corporations have to date not made
significant contributions to reparations funds, we urge the corporations
to engage with the victims of apartheid in whose name lawsuits have been
filed, through their representative organisations, including the Khulumani
Support Group and Jubilee South Africa, on how they can contribute to
apartheid reparation.

Such engagement will go a long way to avoid the negative consequences of
long legal battles. It will also contribute to building a broad national
consensus towards a new South African society, which the lawsuits cannot
achieve in isolation.

For more information and comment please contact Neville Gabriel,
Spokesperson: Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign, cell. +27 83 449 3934



Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign - Jubilee South Africa Media Statement Pretoria, Wednesday 9 April 2003