Court says order to compensate Zimbabwean farmer was wrong

2011-04-04 14:33

A high court order that the South African government must compensate a Zimbabwean farmer for land invasions was wrong in law, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled today.

“When the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered the South African government to compensate Mr [Crawford] Von Abo for the losses he suffered in Zimbabwe at the hands of that government, it made vital mistakes of law.

“This is the conclusion reached by the Supreme Court of Appeal in a judgment delivered this morning [Monday],” the court said in a media summary posted on its website.

“The court recognised that the South African government’s response to Mr Von Abo’s numerous requests for diplomatic protection was inappropriate.

“Despite that conclusion it found that the breach of the duty to respond appropriately to Mr Von Abo’s request could not legally give rise to liability for damages caused by the Zimbabwean government’s violation of Mr Von Abo’s human rights.”

A Free State businessman, Von Abo built up a large farming enterprise over 50 years in Zimbabwe, but was left penniless when his 14 farms were virtually destroyed by land invasions.

He has, since 2008, tried to get the South African government to take diplomatic steps to address the violation of his rights in Zimbabwe.

In February 2010, the high court found that the South African government had a constitutional obligation to provide diplomatic protection and ordered that it had 60 days to take all necessary steps to have Von Abo’s violation of rights by Zimbabwe remedied.

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