SA fights to overturn landmark order to probe Zim torture

via SA fights to overturn landmark order to probe Zim torture | SW Radio Africa  by Alex Bell  November 1, 2013  

South Africa’s prosecuting authorities are fighting to overturn a landmark legal ruling made last year, which compelled them to investigate torture and crimes against humanity committed by Zimbabwean officials.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the police on Friday argued in the Supreme Court of Appeal that the international laws which the North Gauteng High Court based its original ruling on had been misinterpreted.

Last year the High Court ruled that the NPA and the police must investigate state-sanctioned torture and other crimes against humanity committed by Zimbabwean officials in 2007. The Court ruled that the authorities had a duty to probe allegations of torture as required by the Rome Statute, which South Africa is a signatory to. The Statute is the foundation for the International Criminal Court and as a signatory, South Africa is committed to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of serious international crimes.

The case was led by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) and was based on a dossier detailing a politically motivated attack on MDC members in Zimbabwe in 2007. This dossier was handed to the NPA in 2008 but the prosecuting body and the police decided not to take the case further. This decision was overturned by the High Court, which ordered a probe.

The High Court also refused the NPA and the police leave to appeal the legal order. But the authorities then petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal to have its arguments against the High Court order heard.

On Friday, SALC, the ZEF and other supporters of their case gathered at the court for the hearing, with the NPA and police once again being challenged to honour South Africa’s international commitments.

The arguments by the rights groups were also supported by the international lobby group AIDS Free World, which has submitted a dossier detailing the brutal campaign of rape unleashed against MDC supporters in 2008. The group is also arguing that under international law, South Africa has an obligation to investigate these crimes against humanity.

Judgement on the matter was reserved.

ZEF Director Gabriel Shumba told SW Radio Africa that by appealing the decision, South Africa’s prosecuting authorities “are making the case even stronger, because if we win it will be supported by a higher court.”

“What is clear is that this is an emotive subject that illustrates more than any other case in Africa the need to combat impunity. So this is a very powerful case that can be used to advance human rights on the continent,” Shumba said.



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    Anc and zanu disgrace to africa

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    Doris 9 years ago

    Bring back the SADC Tribunal – it is so necessary in Southern Africa.

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    Gabriel Shumba is a hero of the downtrodden people of Africa. The ANC and Zanu-PF are traitors who prefer impunity and dictatorship in Africa.

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    Sekuru Mapenga 9 years ago

    Congratulations to these defenders of human rights. They are doing a service for all of Africa – ending the culture of impunity one judgment at a time.

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    BossMyass 9 years ago

    A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic or authoritarian form of government in which a government is ruled by either an individual: a dictator, or an authoritarian party, as in an oligarchy. A government controlled by one person, or a small group of people. In this form of government the power rests entirely on the person or group of people, and can be obtained by force or by inheritance. The dictator(s) may also take away much of its peoples’ freedom.In this sense, dictatorship (government without people’s consent) is a contrast to democracy (government whose power comes from people). A a form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique’ or ‘a government organisation or group in which absolute power is so concentrated’, whereas democracy, with which the concept of dictatorship is often compared, is defined by most people as a form of government where those who govern are selected through contested elections.

  • comment-avatar 9 years ago

    Why protect murderers and rapists. The court case must be won. The lawlessness should stop. murderers and rapists must be brought to book. We want prosecution of murderers under THE ROME STATUTE AND BEYOND. THIS HAS GONE TOO FAR—-THIS IMPUNITY! THE HEARTLESS CHARLATANS!!!!!!! TIME TO GO TO COURT!