General Motors to Pay Out for its Role in Apartheid

GM Factory in South Africa

More than 20 apartheid victims represented by human rights group Khulumani will receive compensation from car manufacturing giant General Motors (GM) after a lawsuit was filed against the company for its aid in the apartheid regime.

GM has offered a settlement nearly a decade after Khulumani lodged a case against various alleged apartheid collaborators for their role in “gross human rights violations.” The class action was brought by victims of apartheid crimes including torture, rape, denationalisation and detention without trial.

The Khulumani Support Group lodged a case in November 2002, which originally included nearly 100 plaintiffs, charging 23 companies for perpetrating human rights violations. The plaintiffs – victims who had been tortured or whose relatives had been killed – filed the lawsuit saying a number of international companies knowingly helped the apartheid government by selling it weapons and armoured vehicles. This week, General Motors offered to compensate plaintiffs in the South Africa Apartheid Litigation case in the form of $1.5 million (R11.2m) worth of shares in the company. Khulumani national director Dr Marjorie Jobson welcomed the offer by the GM group. Jobson told reporters in Cape Town that she hoped its settlement would set a precedent for the other companies to do the same.