New York – In connection with cases filed against companies that did business in South Africa from 1948-93, two important U.S. allies have taken strong positions against the pending litigation. Motions to dismiss some of the cases were filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The South African government, in a declaration by Justice Minister Dr. Penuell M. Maduna, filed with U.S. District Judge John E. Sprizzo, stated that these cases interfere with South Africa’s efforts to address issues relating to the legacy of apartheid. “The South African government is clear in its opposition to these cases being adjudicated,” said Daniel O’Flaherty, Executive Director of the U.S.- South Africa Business Council. O’Flaherty noted that this is the third such high-level pronouncement by the South African Government on the U.S. litigation:
April 15, 2003 – Address to the South African Parliament by South African President Thabo Mbeki:
“We consider it completely unacceptable that matters that are central to the future of our country should be adjudicated in foreign courts which bear no responsibility for the well-being of our country and the observance of the perspective contained in our constitution of the promotion of national reconciliation.” President Mbeki’s original statement
May 22, 2003 – Letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell from Nkosazana Zuma, South African Minister of Foreign Affairs stating President Mbeki’s position and that: “Through the Truth and Reconciliation process, the issue of reparations for the victims of apartheid is being addressed in terms of our Constitutional obligation.” Zuma’s letter
July 15, 2003 – A ten page “Declaration” to Judge John E. Sprizzo from South African Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Dr. Penuell M. Maduna stating: “It is the government’s submission that as these proceedings interfere with a foreign sovereign’s efforts to address matters in which it has the predominant interest, such proceedings should be dismissed.” Maduna’s declaration
Also on July 15, 2003, the British Government issued a formal Ministerial Statement in Parliament. In opposing the pending lawsuits the Government stated “South Africa is engaged in an ongoing post-apartheid reconciliation process, the complexities of which should not be under-estimated. We believe the South African Government is best placed and best capable of dealing with the issue of reparations for crimes under Apartheid.” The British government also made clear that it views these cases as an improper exercise of jurisdiction by U.S. courts over events occurring wholly outside the United States. British Government statement
The plaintiffs’ opposition to the motions to dismiss will be due in September 2003. Oral argument has been set for early November.
The U.S.-South Africa Business Council is the leading business organization on trade and investment policy issues concerning South Africa and the SACU region.
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