/ 19 October 2007

SA govt against apartheid lawsuit in US

The responsibility of addressing South Africa’s apartheid past lies within the country itself and not the United States courts, Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla said on Friday.

In a statement issued by her office, she reiterated the government’s stance against the case brought by a group of apartheid victims in US courts.

”We submit that another country’s courts should not determine how ongoing political processes in South Africa should be resolved,” Mabandla said.

She said the country’s apartheid legacy should be resolved through the democratic process inside the country.

”The responsibility to address the country’s apartheid past, the development of policies addressing this past and the rehabilitation and improvement of the lives of the people of South Africa lie with the South African government and not foreign courts,” Mabandla said.

This comes after the Manhattan Federal Court in New York last Friday ruled that a district court judge — who had thrown out a suit by a group of apartheid victims — had to review the decision.

Victims filed suit for $400-billion against US businesses allegedly complicit with the former apartheid regime.

It accuses about 50 US, European and Canadian corporations such as Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, General Electric, IBM, General Motors and Exxon of ”aiding and abetting” the former South African regime.

”The government is of the view that the case is directly related to the sovereignty of the South African state and should be resolved through South Africa’s own democratic processes,” Mabandla’s statement said. — Sapa