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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Apartheid victims sue SA government
Bishop Desmond Tutu
Bishop Desmond Tutu is named in the lawsuit
Victims of South Africa's apartheid regime have filed a suit against top government officials accusing them of delaying compensation payments.

The body of Hector Peterson being carried away during the clashes in Soweto in 1976
The apartheid regime lasted for more than 40 years
The case - filed by a victims' support group in Cape Town - asks for payments to be made to thousands of victims who have waited four years for compensation.

"Many of these people are destitute and have serious health problems. They want to know what the government will do for them in terms of reparations," Alison Tilley, lawyer for the Khulumani victims' right group, told Reuters news agency.

The lawsuit names Nobel prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu and South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Bishop Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which recommended in 1998 that the state pay nearly $300 million to over 21,000 victims of apartheid.

It is the latest court action on reparations in South Africa, after a team of American and South African lawyers said earlier this month it would be seeking $50bn in damages from a class action suit against US and Swiss companies.

A special telephone hotline has been set up in South Africa for victims who want to join that case.

More lawsuits

The TRC finished up its work earlier this year, and some victims have received interim payments.

But the Khulumani group said the payments were not enough and that the final compensation was taking too long.

Mrs Tilley said Desmond Tutu and Thabo Mbeki were named in the suit because they played a key role in drawing up the government's reparation policy.

The TRC was expected to give its final report to the president at the end of June, but a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice the report was now expected in August.

"We are finalising the policy and waiting for the final report of the Truth commission," the spokesman, Paul Setsetse, said.

Some analysts say that delays with the compensation could lead to more lawsuits against the government and local companies which benefited from more than 40 years of white-minority rule.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Apartheid
Should the victims get compensation?
See also:

19 Jun 02 | Africa
17 Jun 02 | Africa
16 Jun 02 | Africa
14 Feb 02 | Business
18 Dec 01 | Business
19 May 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
27 Nov 00 | Africa
26 Dec 99 | Africa
16 Feb 99 | Truth and Reconciliation
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