News24

SA 'obliged' to probe Zim torture claims

2012-05-08 14:23

Pretoria - South Africa is obliged under international law to probe alleged atrocities by officials in Zimbabwe, the North Gauteng High Court ruled on Tuesday.

Judge Hans Fabricius ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute the Zimbabweans concerned if they ever set foot in South Africa.

The officials are accused of masterminding "crimes against humanity" by instituting a state-sanctioned reign of terror in their country.

South Africa was obliged to investigate and prosecute international crimes under the Rome Statute and under its own international criminal laws, said Fabricius.

"I hereby hand down a mandatory order, with costs, which obliges the respondents [National Directorate of Public Prosecutions and SA Police Service] to investigate the docket before them."

'Moral victory'

The court action was brought by the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Zimbabwean Exiles Forum (ZEF).

They had asked the court to review and set aside a decision by the NDPP and the SAPS not to investigate Zimbabwean officials linked to the alleged torture.

The offences under scrutiny included a raid by Zimbabwe's police on the Harare offices of the then opposition Movement for Democratic Change. The MDC claimed its members were detained and continually tortured.

SALC and ZEF representatives in court were elated at what they described as a "trend-setting ruling".

Zimbabwean human rights lawyer and ZEF head Gabriel Shumba said the ruling had "far-reaching effects" and was "very welcome".

"As a victim of torture myself, this is a victory for all people who suffer injustice not only in Zimbabwe, but across the world," he said.

"The ruling has proved that there are jurisdictions where victims can fight to enforce their right, or at least be heard."

He said the judgment would set a precedent on how international human rights law should be interpreted.

"The greatest impact of this ruling is the moral victory that it gives to justice over political expediency. This will potentially deter those who may be compelled to carry out the same kind of abuses."

Shumba said the dossier the organisations submitted to the South African authorities contained "overwhelming evidence" which made it necessary to arrest "certain Zimbabwean officials" if they set foot in South African jurisdiction.

International relations


Shumba hoped the relationship between Zimbabwean and South African government officials would not stand in the way of the ruling.

"It is a self-serving argument for anyone to say international relations should be considered and sacrifice the law, because in essence international relations should be premised on morality, legality and the rule of law."

The people on the "long-list of perpetrators" could also be arrested if they travelled to other countries which had extradition agreements with South Africa, said Shumba.

Lawyer Alan Wallis, for the International Justice Project, said the judgment was "ground-breaking" and meant Zimbabweans implicated in the atrocities could be arrested, prosecuted and tried in South African courts.

"This is the best chance to secure justice for Zimbabweans. The court has sent a clear message that South Africa will not be a safe haven for perpetrators of international crime."

Wallis said the investigation part might be an expensive endeavour, but securing justice outweighed any cost.

Nicole Fritz, executive director of the SALC, said the judgment was a timely reminder to those who committed human rights abuses that there would be consequences at some point.

"They must appreciate that they must pay. They cannot just continue to travel around the world and enjoy impunity as they currently do in Zimbabwe. We are very elated, the outcome is the best for us."

Comments
  • Piet - 2012-05-08 14:32

    Why? Leave Bob alone, he is doing a better job than apartheid ever wished for!

      Alan - 2012-05-08 14:52

      Bob's your uncle?

      Rob - 2012-05-08 15:01

      How are we going to prevent it. Mad Bobs police force is stronger than our entire army. Remember the broken ambulance and the serviced wheelbarrows. ANC is terrified of Zim for f@@k sake its pathetic.

      Alan - 2012-05-08 15:08

      yah - but our Pres. may lend us one of his jets..... (if it does not co-incide with a USA Shopping Spree)

      Johan - 2012-05-08 15:13

      So if Bob ever sets foot in SA, he should be prosecuted?

  • Deli - 2012-05-08 14:37

    Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yesYes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

      Piet - 2012-05-08 14:39

      And waste more tax payers money?

      Alan - 2012-05-08 14:52

      ah well Piet - we are tired of it always going to the same cause. Let's spend it on something new!

      sboh.s.memela - 2012-05-08 14:55

      new and helpful, completely agree with you alan

  • Dale - 2012-05-08 14:38

    I think this is great but whether anything concrete in the form of prosecutions or action taken transpires remains to be seen.

  • Dhavandran - 2012-05-08 14:40

    cross our fingers and hope justice will prevail and because this is a santa's wish.

  • david.lebethe - 2012-05-08 14:44

    I suppose the ruling will have the same effect to people like Obama, Sakosky, Cameron and all those who voted for destruction of Libya and misery visited upon people of that country. Apart from the fact, that it is a reckless ruling, it goes to show the kind of people we have on the bench and the sooner the country is rid off them, the better.

      Piet - 2012-05-08 14:45

      Have a green Smartie David....

      Alan - 2012-05-08 14:59

      maybe a box of them Greenies......

      Dee - 2012-05-08 15:58

      David - I too deplore the Orwellean 'Humanitarian Intervention' in Libya, and I'm sympathetic to an argument about many heinous Western actions in Africa BUT HOW ON EARTH DO YOU JUSTIFY WANTING AFRICANS TORTURED BY AFRICANS TO BE DENIED ANY JUSTICE? Do you think the courts should ignore crimes committed by Africans on Africans? When you 'are rid of them' (functioning international & local legal systems) - what would you plan as a replacement? Necklacing? Please answer as I'm sincerely interested in understanding your (well considered) point of view....

      Johan - 2012-05-08 17:58

      Amazing logic. It never ceases to amaze me how people who are imbued with the spirit of ubuntu care nothing for the fellow africans. If someone commits a crime in SA then regardless of colour, creed or whatever they should be prosecuted. Why on earth would we not want that?

  • ngonimclean - 2012-05-08 14:45

    Let's be real africans will never prosecute one another

      Alan - 2012-05-08 14:51

      That's right - some rather allow themselves to be abused by their kind. I guess that is why Africa will never be anything but the wasteland of Africa, where starving people living in poverty are happy to be that way. Vivaaaaa

      Gregory - 2012-05-08 17:24

      Real Africans are quick to slaughter each other. Rather than go the legal route.

  • Tumisang - 2012-05-08 14:46

    Am warning the ANC now....The sooner you review the powers of the courts the better......We gave you two third majority to ensure that the perpetrator of apartheid and their agents in the courts don’t rule the country again, please amend the constitution immediately and change the laws of this country, am getting frustrated with the power that you gave to the courts while we the voters gave you power. change the constitution immediately and take your power back.this is now how many cases that the courts are making againts the progresive policies that we gave you?wake up anc...you cant be in power yet seem so powerless..Thats why we need Julius Malema to be the president.

      Alan - 2012-05-08 14:49

      oh yeah ... and please fit wings to pigs.

      Isaac - 2012-05-08 14:51

      The ANC don't have the two thirds majority anymore. Moron.

      sboh.s.memela - 2012-05-08 14:59

      please tell me you are joking, really julius malema for president,change the constitution. no offence but there is something seriously wrong with you and you are telling the cANCer to wake up ? buddy YOU need to wake up.

      Ken - 2012-05-08 15:01

      Anyone replying to the above person is an idiot

      Alan - 2012-05-08 15:04

      ah Ken - the gullible people fall for the stirrers every time. Me - I just find em very amusing. Trolls keep me well entertained.

      Chrono - 2012-05-08 15:30

      Tumisang, you and the others who question the judge's decision are obviously in favour of torturing and killing those who do not support a particular political party. Is that your version of democracy? If it is I suggest you think about democracy and then realise that you do not know what it is yet.

      Martin - 2012-05-08 16:01

      you will see the anc losing more power come 2014, the e toll thing, the paid parking thing, the poison water in the ec, nc, fs, the diepsloot thing, the toilets, wATCH AND SEE BALLBAGSUNG

      Kevin - 2012-05-08 18:51

      Not only does tha ANC not have the required majority, it was the party that wanted universal human rights to be included in the constitution. Its quite clear you you voted for them under false impressions. You should have voted for the Freedom Front or some other bunch of totaltarian idiots.

      Michele - 2012-05-08 21:47

      Tumisang = Brain dead

  • paulmandlankosi - 2012-05-08 14:46

    Was it a sobber judges? I doubt

      Alan - 2012-05-08 14:48

      I think the perpetrators will be sobbing....

      Kevin - 2012-05-08 18:53

      He was sober, he applied the Constitution to the matter as well as our obligations in terms of agreements signed by the ANC Govt.

  • Kato - 2012-05-08 14:49

    This is effectively a travel ban on the entire Mugabe regime.....Sanctions...soon you r gonna here the regime crying "SA has imposed sanctions on us"....Same thing should be done in all democratic nations around the world so that these cretins will notice that what they call sanctions is in fact a result of their actions which may result in a jail term. The ruling was perfect.

      Alan - 2012-05-08 15:12

      Yeah - damn hard on the ZANU PF 'free and fair' election enforcers. Whaahaaa

  • RObert - 2012-05-08 14:54

    I hope you start with their president first,Bob.

  • Phumi - 2012-05-08 14:59

    Another drunk decision by one reactionary former apartheid judge. This decision is not progressive and will only seek to strain the relations (party to party) we have with Zimbabwe! This decision will bring nothing but misery on the ordinary Zimbabweans and will thwart any peace effort or stability we have made so far!

      Alan - 2012-05-08 15:06

      Eish Phumi - did you copy that out of this week's Viva Times? Talking of drunk judges ... you may not want to open yourself up to same obvious comments about certain drunk judges in SA. Whaaahaaa

      christian.denyschen - 2012-05-08 15:18

      No more misery then your uncle bob brought to them hey phumi?

      colin.dovey - 2012-05-08 15:53

      @Phumi - Is this the Judge you meant: Judge Nkola Motata - who became infamous for his anti-white hate-speech aired in the court room, is found guilty of drunk driving......?

      Hugh - 2012-05-08 16:03

      I love drunk apartheid judges. Not afraid of the trash and call a spade a spade.

      Kevin - 2012-05-08 18:57

      Mugabe, Shiri and Mnangagwa organised genocide in the part of Zimbabwe I lived in. So Phumi why dont you take your stupid comment to Matabeleand and stand on a street corner and shout it out, if your very lucky you may survive the angry mob. If your unlucky you will be locked up and tortured by Mugabe's police for causing a riot.

      Zeb - 2012-05-09 08:54

      We cannot save relations at the expense of helpless Zim ppl who are driven out of their land by hunger imposed by Mugabe and his clowns. Arresting these devils is not enuff;eliminate them!

  • Bernice - 2012-05-08 15:13

    Its about blady time. These sadistic rulers that think they can get away with everything should be brought to book for there actions.FAT CATS that sit on there thrones and dictate and allow these atrocities to happen to there own people. Disgusting human beings if they can be called that. This should of happened a long time ago. But then again, this is South Africa where our FAT CATS are getting away with everything and anything. This should be interesting in time to come.

  • Sibusiso - 2012-05-08 15:17

    SAPS make arrests quickly! Bob they coming for you. Justice for all, democracy for all. Who's next sarcozy, obama or cameron, oh!!! I can't wait, please don't forget mswati

  • Sibusiso - 2012-05-08 15:18

    SAPS make arrests quickly! Bob they coming for you. Justice for all, democracy for all. Who's next sarcozy, obama or cameron, oh!!! I can't wait, please don't forget mswati

  • ptmakgato - 2012-05-08 15:42

    This great news, I'm personally sick and tired of our selfish South Africans who think they own the world. Pls make arrest quickly, they must pay for their evil and cruel actions. FEEL ITS HERE

  • Martin - 2012-05-08 15:45

    i see my comment is gone again,,,, get a neutral country to investigate, this government is in bed with mugabe and his cronies, they share cake and champagne and human rights abuses.

  • georgebrightons - 2012-05-08 15:46

    Fellow countrymen Zim' is a sovereign state. Zim' and SA share diplomatic relationship. Zim' has it's own constitution and SA it's own. A south African court is not law unto self. Zim' brothers don't use SA as a springboard to attack Zim'. Please fight Bob in his home soil not here. Gen. Tshinamase of Rwanda was shot in Johannesburg(SA) by Rwandan operatives. Rwandan President Paul Kigame requested his extradition,where are courts here. We opened our gates to everyone seeking asylum here in SA, please behave well or deportation. We understand your problems and you will be united not so long through our efforts as SA and SADC under President Zuma.

      Kevin - 2012-05-08 19:00

      Bit confused are you George. South Africa as a signatory to the enabling resolution of the United Nations is obliged to investigate those perpetrators of crimes against humanity and prosecute them.

  • EricksonTL - 2012-05-08 15:46

    YES! International Law SHOULD and DOES apply in Africa too. Bout time it was enforced!

      Martin - 2012-05-08 15:49

      you underestimate the disregard for the law the anc posesses. I really hope im wrong, but I think zuma will let mugabe slide right through the border to the destination of his choice in sa

  • Manford - 2012-05-08 15:51

    i hope they start with the fli flopper moyo jonah

  • Bob - 2012-05-08 15:53

    So the big test will be to see if they arrest uncle Bob when he comes here...! I doubt it!

  • bheki.dingiswayo - 2012-05-08 15:55

    This is a good judgement and will help the people of Zimbabwe to have democracy in their country. Ever since Bob took over the have been killings that he might need to answer - Killing of amaNdebele. He must be arrested so that our politician (SA) can learn a thing or two from this judgement.

  • jamesi.kazonga - 2012-05-08 16:06

    is zimbabwe a colony of SA?????

      Johan - 2012-05-08 17:14

      Seems South Africa is a colony of Zimbabwe these days..

      Micheal - 2012-05-09 15:06

      A good question noble son. We need an answer

  • Marcus - 2012-05-08 16:08

    Here's a crazy idea; Let's just invade Zim, remove Bob and send him to court for crimes against humanity, break down the border, go out and use the land for farming. (Use people that know how to farm!) Why you ask? Zim is not going down, it's there! One way or another, this will once again fall onto SA (tax payers), we will need more food, water and elec. To offer just these basics, we need more resources, LAND! Why not use the land of Zim, they're not using it, well, most of it.

      Heiku - 2012-05-08 16:37

      Very good point. And to top it all off we will have vic falls!

      Johan - 2012-05-08 17:15

      And Kariba lake!!

  • Glenview - 2012-05-08 16:59

    day dreaming !!!!! , keep on dreaming

  • lstevongie - 2012-05-08 18:10

    why why?

  • Mario Bisogno - 2012-05-08 18:36

    I don't understand they nationalised all the mines but people are suffering more.no farmers no food clever ne?

  • Michele - 2012-05-08 21:46

    As far as I am concerned it's a disgrace that a court of law had to make these findings, our government should have done this in any case.

      Micheal - 2012-05-09 11:31

      I beg to differ with you. No court nor gvt has the right to interfere in another country's affairs. SA can only help. But Zimbabwe must solve its problems

  • Micheal - 2012-05-09 07:30

    What a crazy judgement by this judge. The world including SA must respect the souvereignity of Zimbabwe. The world failed to prosecute the colonisers of Africa including the apartheid gvt of SA for crimes against humanity committed against African people. Why now? Why is Britain not prosecuted first before Mugabe? Why is it only the Africans that must be prosecuted? What about the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people? Ma-Afrika, wake up

  • Micheal - 2012-05-09 07:30

    What a crazy judgement by this judge. The world including SA must respect the souvereignity of Zimbabwe. The world failed to prosecute the colonisers of Africa including the apartheid gvt of SA for crimes against humanity committed against African people. Why now? Why is Britain not prosecuted first before Mugabe? Why is it only the Africans that must be prosecuted? What about the crimes committed by Israel against the Palestinian people? Ma-Afrika, wake up

      Zeb - 2012-05-09 08:48

      They torture and starve people in Zim yet they cme to SA to feast and swim! They must be arrested or even better,killed.

      Micheal - 2012-05-09 11:26

      Let us not act as if the Zimbabweans cannot solve their problems. Zimbabwe has its own criminal justice system. Anyone suspected of criminal activity in Zimbabwe will be prosecuted by Zimbabwe according to its own criminal justice system. If there was international justice, Israel Britian, SA apartheid gvt, etc would have been prosecuted a long time ago. And it will be bad for SA to chase the Zimbabweans away when they accepted us during apartheid.

      Micheal - 2012-05-09 11:26

      Let us not act as if the Zimbabweans cannot solve their problems. Zimbabwe has its own criminal justice system. Anyone suspected of criminal activity in Zimbabwe will be prosecuted by Zimbabwe according to its own criminal justice system. If there was international justice, Israel Britian, SA apartheid gvt, etc would have been prosecuted a long time ago. And it will be bad for SA to chase the Zimbabweans away when they accepted us during apartheid.

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