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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

South Africa: Apartheid Debt & Reparations, 1 South Africa: Apartheid Debt & Reparations, 1
Date distributed (ymd): 021112
Document reposted by Africa Action

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Southern Africa
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +US policy focus+


A suit was filed today, November 12, in the New York Eastern District Court against 8 banks and 12 other companies in six Western countries for apartheid reparations, on behalf of the Khulumani Support Group and individual "victims of state-sanctioned torture, murder, rape, arbitrary detention, and inhumane treatment." This posting contains a press release from the Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign, a statement from the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, a list of the companies that are the defendants, and a profile of the Khulumani Support Group. Another posting distribued today contains excerpts from the stories of individual plaintiffs who are parties to the case.

For additional background from the Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign, see

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign
Media Statement

EMBARGO: 11h00 (South Africa) Tuesday, 12 November 2002

Major Apartheid Reparations Suit Filed in US Court

For comment in South Africa please contact:
South Africa: Neville Gabriel, Spokesperson: Jubilee SA, cell. +27 83 449 3934; Ntombi Mosikare, Secretary General: Khulumani Support Group, cell. +27 11 403 4098; Charles Abrahams, Legal Adviser: Jubilee SA, cell. +27 82 560 7152

For comment in other countries, please see list at end of media statement.

The full text of the filed complaint and other background information is available at

After four years of failed attempts to get multinational banks and businesses that propped up the apartheid state to account for their odious profiteering, the Khulumani Support Group and Jubilee South Africa's Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign today announced that a major complaint for apartheid reparations was filed last night in the New York Eastern District Court on behalf of victims of state-sanctioned torture, murder, rape, arbitrary detention, and inhumane treatment.

"The corporations aided and abetted a crime against humanity whose persistent social damage requires urgent repair," Jubilee South Africa said in a statement issued today.

"They made massive profits while the suffering of the victims of apartheid intensified. The banks and businesses have consistently ignored our attempts to engage in discussion about their role in supporting broad social programmes for the reconstruction and development of affected communities and in compensating specific individuals for the damage that the corporations made possible."

Thandi Shezi, one of the claimants from the Khulumani Support Group, said: "Today we lay claim to our right to redress from the banks and businesses that enabled gross violations of our human rights."

"This is the only route left open to us to ensure that the truth is known about the extent of corporate complicity in apartheid abuses and that justice is delivered to those who suffered. The victims cannot be left to pay for their own suffering. Multinational corporations must be put on notice that complicity in crimes against humanity does not pay," said the Khulumani Support Group.

The Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign, in consultation with its international partner campaigns, instructed its lawyers, Michael Hausfeld (USA) and Charles Abrahams (SA), to file the legal complaint in the United States of America on behalf of the Khulumani Support Group, a coalition partner organisation in Jubilee SA. Khulumani is an organisation of about thirty-two thousand victims of gross apartheid human rights violations.

The complaint names eight banks and twelve oil, transport, communications technology, and armaments companies from Germany, Switzerland, Britain, the United States, Netherlands, and France, calling on them to contribute towards healing the damage caused by their profiteering from apartheid by paying compensation to the victims and reparations that will be used for reconstruction and development programmes.

The Apartheid Debt & Reparations Campaign said: "In this claim, we express our commitment to the future of apartheid's victims, to the protection of human rights, and to the rule of law".

"This suit has been filed after extensive international consideration of its legal and factual basis, and after thorough consultation amongst key organisations. Further complaints of similar weight in regard to other aspects of apartheid crimes will be filed in coming months."


For comment please contact:

South Africa: Neville Gabriel, Spokesperson: Jubilee SA, cell. +27 83 449 3934; Ntombi Mosikare, Secretary General: Khulumani Support Group, cell. +27 11 403 4098; Charles Abrahams, Legal Adviser: Jubilee SA, cell. +27 82 560 7152

Germany:Dieter Simon, German Campaign for Apartheid-Caused Debt Cancellation & Reparations / Koordination Suedliches Africa (KOSA), tel. +49 521 986 4851; Anna Jung, German Campaign for Apartheid-Caused Debt Cancellation & Reparations / Medico International, tel. +49 69 944 3827; Gottfried Wellmer, German Campaign for Apartheid-Caused Debt Cancellation & Reparations, tel. +49 228 69 4792

Switzerland:Mascha Madoerin, Swiss Camapign for Apartheid-Caused Debt Cancellation & Reparations / Aktion Finanzplatz Scweiz, tel. +41 61 693 1700; Joe Elsener, Swiss Campaign for Apartheid-Caused Debt Cancellation & Reparations / Bethlehem Mission, tel. +41 41 375 7223

USA:Salih Booker, Director: Africa Action, tel. +1 202 546 7961; Bill Fletcher, Director: TransAfrica, tel. +1 202 223 1960; Michael Hausfeld, Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll PLLC, tel. +1 202 408 4600

Britain: Euan Wilmshurst, Director: Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), tel. +44 20 7833 3133; Aditi Sharma, Campaigns Manager: Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA), tel. +44 20 7833 3133

Netherlands:Peter Hermes, Director: Netherlands Institute for Southern Africa (NIZA), tel. +31 20 520 6210

Note: The text of the complaint includes brief descriptions of the human rights violations and damages suffered by each of the named plaintiffs.



1. 20 Corporations and banks are cited as defendants in the Complaint. These defendants are all foreign corporations and banks. In alphabetical order they are:

1.1 Barclays National Bank
1.2 British Petroleum P.L.C.
1.3 Caltex Petroleum Corporation
1.4 Citigroup
1.5 Commerzbank
1.6 Credit Suisse
1.7 Daimler Chrysler
1.8 Deutsche Bank
1.9 Dresdner Bank
1.10 Exxon Mobil Corporation
1.11 Fluor Corporation
1.12 Ford Motor Company
1.13 Fujitsu ICL. (previously International Computers Limited)
1.14 General Motors
1.15 International Business Machines (IBM)
1.16 J.P. Morgan Chase (Chase Manhattan)
1.17 Rheinmetall
1.18 Royal Dutch Shell
1.19 Total Fina-Elf
1.20 UBS

2. The above corporations and banks are divided as follows into the various countries of origin:

2.1 From the United States of America (USA)

2 US Banks: Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase (Chase Manhattan)
6 US Corporations: Caltex Petroleum Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Fluor Corporation, Ford Motor Corporation, General Motors, International Business Machiness (IBM)

2.2 From the United Kingdom (UK)

1 Bank: Barclays National Bank
2 Corporations: British Petroleum P.L.C., Fujitsu ICL. (previously International Computers Limited)

2.3 From the Federal Republic of Germany

3 Banks: Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank
2 Corporations: Daimler Chrysler, Rheinmetall

2.4 From Switzerland

2 Banks: Credit Suisse Group, UBS

2.5 From France

1 Corporation: Total-Fina-Elf

2.6 From The NetherlandsN

1 Corporation Royal Dutch Shell

3. The aforesaid corporations are divided into the following industries:

3.1 Oil Industry (6 Corporations): Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil Corporation, Caltex, British Petroleum, Fluor Corporation, Total-Fina-Elf

3.2 Armament Industry (1 Corporation): Rheinmetall

3.3 Banking Industry (8 Banks): Barclays National Bank, Citigroup Incoporated, Commerzbank, Credit Suisse Group, Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, J.P. Morgan Chase (Chase Manhattan), UBS

3.4 Transportation Industry (3 Corporations)

Ford Motor Corporation, Daimler Chrysler, General Motors

3.5 Technology Industry (2 Corporations): Fujitsu ICL (previously International Computers Limited), International Business Machines (IBM)


Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll
Washington, DC
Tel: +1 202 408 4600

November 12, 2002

Khulumani et al. v. Barclays et al.

Today the law firm of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, P.L.L.C. along with other firms in the United States, joins with the South African firm, Abrahams Kiewitz, in filing a complaint that seeks to hold businesses responsible for aiding and abetting the apartheid regime in South Africa in furtherance of the commission of the crimes of apartheid, forced labor, genocide, extrajudicial killing, torture, sexual assault, and unlawful detention.

The world community recognized apartheid itself as a crime against humanity and a violation of international law. Apartheid could not have been maintained in the same manner without the participation of the defendants.

The lawsuit, Khulumani et al v. Barclays et al., was filed late this afternoon in federal court in the Eastern District of New York. The suit is based on common law principles of liability and on the Alien Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. 1350, which grants U.S. courts jurisdiction over certain violations of international law, regardless of where they occur.

Twenty-two businesses, representing six industry types, have been named as defendants in the suit. The complaint seeks to hold those businesses, which the suit claims aided and abetted the apartheid regime, responsible. For example: IBM and ICL provided the computers that enabled South Africa to create the hated "pass book system" and to control the black South African population. Car manufacturers provided the armored vehicles that were used to patrol the townships. Arms manufacturers violated the embargoes on sales to South Africa, as did the oil companies. The banks provided the funding that enabled South Africa to expand its police and security apparatus.

Recent historical evidence demonstrates that the involvement of companies in the key industries of mining, transportation, armaments, technology, oil, and financing were not only instrumental to the implementation of the furtherance of the abuses, but were so integrally connected to the abuses themselves that apartheid would probably not have occurred in the same way without their participation. Michael D. Hausfeld, the lead counsel in the suit said, "Apartheid was an institutionalized system of racial disenfranchisement, forced labor, and criminal domination. It sought to and did exploit and degrade the black South African population for a criminal purpose, through criminal means. Our complaint seeks a measure of justice from those entities which aided or abetted the commission of this atrocity."

About Khulmani Support Group

Organizational History

Our organization, the Khulumani Support Group works to assist victims of apartheid-era violence. Through victim empowerment and direct aid, we support victims in their struggle for personal and community reconciliation, thereby restoring their dignity and integrating them into mainstream society.

Khulumani (meaning "Speak Out" in Zulu) is a national organization with its national headquarters located in Johannesburg. Initially, Khulumani was created as a subsidiary of South Africa's Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. Although we maintain very close ties with CSVR, since 1999 we have officially and practically functioned as an autonomous organization. Our eight-member fulltime staff, work both in the national office and within all nine provinces. Over half of the staff are survivors of apartheid-era violence.

Additionally, we have an active eight-member board, whose members represent various human rights groups. There are approximately 32,700 members of Khulumani. In order to meet the needs of our widespread membership, we operate by supporting over 70 community-based chapters in all nine of South Africa's provinces. These chapters vary in size, ranging from our smaller groups of 10-15 to larger groups of up to 120, as well as in active involvement in our programming

Khulumani was established in 1995, by the survivors and families of the victims of the political violence that ensued during the apartheid era. KSG was first formed in response to the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Our primary purpose was to ensure that the victims had the support they needed in order to speak out about their personal experiences with the human rights atrocities that were committed during the apartheid regime. Throughout the TRC process KSG helped victims obtain and fill out applications and appeals, coordinated meetings with TRC officials, provided individual and group counselling for victims throughout their testimonies in order to utilize the official process of truth telling for survivors to reclaim their victimization and their dignity. Khulumani also advocated the government on behalf of the victims to give them a voice throughout the creation and implementation of the TRC.

In addition to working alongside the TRC process, we also strived to create innovative programs to broaden victim's personal reconciliation processes beyond the scope of the TRC. Once the TRC stopped taking statements in 1998, these programs became the main focus of Khulumani's work and have continued to drive our organization. Some of our most successful achievements have been the implementation of the following programs, which we also continue to implement even after the life of the TRC:

  • Socio-economic support: We provided direct medical assistance to over 220 victims and their families. Provided educational assistance to more than 100 children. Given more than 50 wheelchairs to disabled people.
  • Counselling: Khulumani's counselling sessions give victims the opportunity to gain support and draw strength through shared experiences. We also give referrals to individuals in need of additional psychological care. Our facilitators and staff receive training around psychological healing.
  • Disappearances and exhumations: Khulumani supports many of the families of the disappeared by offering special counselling groups and seminars in conjunction with CSVR's Disappearances project.
  • Educational and legal workshops / Info dissemination: we have implemented several workshops to provide information to victims concerning their rights as well as relevant political and economic developments. Educational workshops around the lawsuits have been conducted in more than five provinces.
  • Reparations: Khulumani continued to lobby the government for the implementation of promised community and individual reparations as a critical element of the reconciliation process. Although that the TRC has closed down, the TRC continues to issue out applications for reparations to the recently declared victims of apartheid. Our trained staff and facilitators continue to assist victims and their families with appeals and reparations applications.
  • Apartheid Debt and Reparations: Khulumani has been an active member of Jubilee South Africa since 1999. It has also been an active member of the Apartheid Debt and Reparations Task Team of Jubilee South Africa since its inception in 2000 and is one of an 8 member reference group that guides the work of the current Reparations claims campaign. Khulumani has informed and educated its membership through its provincial structures, of the International Reparations legal claim. Together with Jubilee Khulumani support victims in their actions around the June 16 anniversary of the Soweto uprising with actions and support also coming from Jubilee structures in Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom. .
  • Reconciliation Workshops: Some provinces like KZN, Free State and East Rand in Gauteng where people exceedingly experienced internal conflicts have shown interest in personal reconciliation. As in situations of intense trauma, the victims' capacity to cope and take responsibility for moving forward with their lives is largely dependent on their ability to make some sort of peace with the past. This process is severely hindered as a result of the continuing tensions of the past, creating an environment in which it is difficult, if not impossible to reconcile especially if they are living across the street or next door each other. Continued reconciliation workshops are needed in these communities

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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