Farmers take Zimbabwe to court over legal costs

2010-08-03 08:47

Three farmers whose farms were seized by the Zimbabwean government

would apply for a special order to recover legal costs in the High Court in

Pretoria, their attorney said on Monday (August 2, 2010).

The farmers would launch the application against the Zimbabwean

government on Tuesday (August 2, 2010), Willie Spies, their attorney from

AfriForum, said in a statement.

The move followed the government’s scrapping an initial urgent

application against the farmers without offering to compensate them for wasted

expenditure.

Spies said the Zimbabwean government brought the action against the

farmers because it was apparently under the impression that the auction of its

properties in Cape Town was organised by AfriForum and the farmers.

“Although the farmers were the first ones to seize the properties,

the auctions were organised by German banking group KFW Bankengruppe.”

The auctions had been scheduled for July 27 and August 10 by the

bank, which was the legitimate holder of significant claims by a group of white

farmers contesting the seizure of their Zimbabwean farms.

“Despite the fact that the correct facts had been widely reported

in the media, the Zimbabwean government erroneously lodged an urgent application

against the Zimbabwean farmers Louis Fick, Richard Etheredge and Michael

Campbell.”

The initial urgent application against the farmers was to be heard

on Wednesday (August 4, 2010) in the High Court in Pretoria.

But Zimbabwe launched another urgent application in the High Court

in Johannesburg last week, a day before the first auction of its South

African-owned properties was held, in a bid to stop it.

Bank spokesperson Axel Breitbach said the auctions had been

suspended until the court process was finalised.

Spies said it was clear the Zimbabwean government was trying to

further jeopardise the three farmers with random court applications.

“Although they were deprived of their income by the Zimbabwean

government, they have to incur high legal costs for their court cases against

the Zimbabwean government.”

That country’s government, in turn, was refusing to honour orders

to pay costs older than one year, including one by the Southern African

Development Community tribunal, Spies said.



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