The legacy and lessons of the Khulumani case

During its 12-year trajectory, the Khulumani case has excited interest worldwide. The case should be understood and situated within the Transitional Justice initiatives undertaken during the South African political and legal transition, most notably the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What approach was taken towards reparations for victims of gross human rights abuses during Apartheid? The payment of reparations has been acknowledged as a core transitional justice mechanism. The fact that the Khulumani plaintiffs pursued the litigation as away of obtaining reparations indicates that ATS litigation can be a mechanism of transitional justice. Since Transitional Justice is a discipline that is inherently interdisciplinary, the Khulumani case lends itself to research of an interdisciplinary in nature.

The question of reparations will form the focus of the book. The Khulumani case must be situated within the growing international recognition of and sensitivity towards the rights of victims. It will be argued that spite of the criticism within South Africa of the plaintiffs’ decisions to turn to US courts for relief, the Khulumani plaintiffs should be applauded for taking advantage of important developments in international law and of the spirit of the times.

Project leader(s):
  • Mia Swart (Department of Public Law, University of Johannesburg)

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