Thousands of South Africans are jointly planning to file a suit to claim from government and firms about 500 million euros over defective condoms that were distributed, their lawyer said Friday.
The government in August recalled about 20 million defective condoms following safety concerns after a scandal in which some employees were allegedly bribed to pass on defective condoms.
"We have notified state organs that we intend to file claims against them," Gilford Malatji told AFP.
"At this stage we don't know whether or not people have been infected. But the persons who may have used those condoms have been exposed to the risk of HIV.
"Our clients are emotionally-disturbed and shocked," he said, recalling that South Africa has the highest figure of HIV-positive people in the world, with about five million of its 48 million population living with the virus that causes AIDS.
Malatji said his 50,000 clients were each demanding compensation of 10,000 rand, which will see government coughing out about five billion rand (495 million euros, 730 millions dollars).
Other defendants in the proposed suit are the health and finance departments, South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), a staff of the agency who allegedly took bribes to pretend the condoms were fit, and the companies contracted by government to distribute them.
Although Malatji said he had already notified the government and SABS about the suit, as required by law, government and the SABS, the health department spokesman denied knowledge of any such notice.
Some SABS officials who issued condom safety certificates are facing legal action in connection with the scandal.
A SABS worker and two officials of the condom manufacturing firm Zalatex have been charged with fraud and corruption and released on bail over the scandal.
The government has hired some companies to supply about 80 million condoms.