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More apartheid-era cases in the pipeline

Publish date: 11 January 2010
Issue Number: 2475
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: Litigation

Former Judge William Heath, now President Jacob Zuma's legal adviser, has confirmed that multi-billion dollar legal cases against apartheid-era businesses are being prepared in Europe, according to a report in The Sunday Independent.

It says the actions threaten to name and shame high-profile individuals and corporations, South Africans among them. The latest cases are being prepared in Portugal and Belgium against a number of financial institutions and corporations, some of which are still operating in SA. The report notes that unlike the apartheid reparation cases under way in the US, these cases are not being brought by apartheid-era victims, but by an aggrieved middleman who lost out on his share of a lucrative arms deal in the 1980s. Armscor used arms merchant Jorge Pinhol in 1986 to help facilitate the sale of helicopter parts to SA at the height of the arms embargo and was offered a 10% cut if he could pull it off. Though the deal went through, Pinhol never received his multi-million dollar payout and is now seeking compensation. The report says the cases go beyond Pinhol and Armscor and are expected to hit financial institutions, insurance houses, arms-related corporations and a string of other sectors. They will also name and shame a host of prominent people, who lined their pockets prior to 1994. Full report in The Sunday Independent (subscription needed)