Johannesburg, Nov 12 (Reuters): South African activists said today they had filed suit in a US federal court against 20 European and US firms for allegedly encouraging human rights abuses by trading in formerly White-ruled South Africa.
The suit is expected to seek billions of dollars in damages from defendants which include Swiss banks Credit Suisse and UBS , oil giants Exxon Mobil and BP, computer giant IBM and car makers Ford and General Motors, and DaimlerChrysler.
“The corporations aided and abetted a crime against humanity whose persistent social damage requires urgent repair. They made massive profits while the suffering of the victims of apartheid intensified,” the Khulumani victims' rights group and anti-debt campaigners Jubilee South Africa said in a joint statement.
The suit filed in US district court for the eastern district of New York yesterday comes amid growing frustration in South Africa over long-delayed government reparations payments and persistent poverty among black South Africans that have kept apartheid wounds from healing in the country.