Tag Archives: German Campaign

Daimler and the Apartheid Lawsuit (updated)

15 Jun

Updated: In April 2010 Mr. Mpho Masemola a Khulumani member and one of the named plaintiffs in the case against Daimler, GM, IBM, Ford and Rheinmettal went to Germany to address the 5,000-strong annual Daimler AG shareholders meeting. There Mpho pointed out the complicity of Daimler with the apartheid government, and called for their engagement and dialogue with victims and survivors to ensure acknowledgement and reparations. The Daimler CEO Mr. Dieter Zetsche responded that they would never speak to victims and has nothing to answer for. Responses like this from these corporations is what lies behind the Red Card Campaign to expose corporate lies and demand accountability. Mpho’s appearance at the Daimler AGM ignited interest across Germany and in part led to the article linked to below.

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We’ve just had an update from our German campaign partners that the article in the major German newspaper Der Spiegel that was published last week has now been re-published in english. The article focuses on Daimler’s current sponsoring of the German football team, their previous involvement with the apartheid government, and Khulumani’s campaign to hold them accountable through public pressure and the courts.

Here’s one snippet of the article:

When it comes to Daimler, says Jobson, who is exhausted after the long, tedious search for evidence, the case is relatively clear. The United Nations classified apartheid as a crime against humanity as long ago as 1965. Nevertheless, Daimler continued to do business with South Africa, and even after the 1977 UN weapons embargo, the company supplied the regime with at least 2,500 Unimogs. Because these Unimogs were used to strengthen the police and security forces, Jobson says that Daimler aided and abetted serious human rights violations.

If companies truly have a moral responsibility, says Jobson, shouldn’t at least a portion of the profits they earned in South Africa at the time be turned over to those who suffered the most from apartheid?

In the complaint, Hausfeld [Khulumani’s lawyer] attempted to demonstrate that Daimler, for example, had deliberately circumvented the arms embargo. Its vehicles were used by the government in its efforts to control the black homelands and townships and, according to the complaint, Daimler supplied spare parts and equipped the South African police and military with models like its Minibus and Unimog. Using the Unimog and other Mercedes parts, South Africa built its armored personnel carriers, the Buffel, Casspir and Hippo.

The complaint cites an article from the German magazine Wehrtechnik (Military Technology), which describes the Unimog as a small military transporter and quotes a Daimler employee who, after visiting the Mercedes-Benz subsidiary in South Africa in 1988, said at a shareholders’ meeting that he had seen warehouses during his visit where parts for the Buffel were kept in storage. The Buffel, the employee added, was used by the South African government in its war against Angola, as well as in the occupation and control of urban black neighborhoods.

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