Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The South African Constitutional Court handed down an astonishing judgment this morning. In Alexkor Ltd v Richtersveld Community it found that a community removed from diamond-rich land in the twenties is entitled to compensation. The land has been mined for years now and is currently owned by Alexkor, a state company. According to the BBC, the decision might require the South African government to pay the tribe R10 billion. The community's lawyer is quoted as saying that one has to look at what the community would have earned had they retained ownership for the past 75 years. It goes without saying that this is an astronomical figure. So, is this justice at last, the law running its course, or simply irresponsible in a country where resources are so scarce? Let me know what you think. You can read the full judgment here. I'm going to refrain from commenting until I've read the decision properly; newspapers tend to be unreliable on things legal.

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