Transitional justice and business corporations: a systemic transformative-constitutionalist approach to binding human rights obligations for companies in South Africa

South Africa’s 1996 constitution has been hailed for its project of transformative constitutionalism: “large scale social change through nonviolent political processes grounded in law”. Such transformation is meant to shift the country’s legal system from its dark past to a better future, via such concrete mechanisms as supremacy of the Bill of Rights (any law/conduct which unjustifiably limits fundamental rights is invalid), and “horizontality” (the BoR binds both the State and non-state entities). Corporations have been at the heart of human rights violations in South Africa throughout the territory’s history of colonialism and apartheid, but these abuses have continued into its (post)liberal democracy. This paper explores the transformative possibilities of the BoR here, and proposes a rationalisation of the various BoR mechanisms into a single systemic approach focused on fundamental rights foremost, with multicentric obligations then at once affecting the State, law and companies.