SA to challenge Zimbabwe farmers compensation ruling

2010-04-02 15:19

SOUTH Africa’s government today said it would fight a court ruling

that allowed white farmers who lost land under President Robert Mugabe’s reforms

to claim a Zimbabwean state-owned house.

The R2.5-million house in Cape Town was legally seized on Tuesday

after a court said a regional ruling that Zimbabwe’s government must compensate

the farmers was enforceable in South Africa.

“We are appealing the judgment,” South Africa’s foreign affairs

head of diplomacy Kgomotso Molobi told AFP.

The regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal

found in 2008 that Zimbabwe had wrongly taken land from nearly 80 farmers,

saying they had been targeted due to their race.

Zimbabwe rejected the verdict, but a South African court in

February ruled that it could be applied locally. The house in the Cape Town

suburb of Kenilworth was not protected by diplomatic immunity and was legally

attached or seized by the sheriff’s office on Tuesday.

An appeal against the court ruling by the South African government

will be opposed, the farmers’ lawyer Willie Spies said on Friday. “If they

challenge this, then obviously we will oppose the challenge,” he said.

Mugabe launched the land reforms a decade ago, aiming to correct a

colonial legacy that left whites owning most of the best farmland. But the

chaotic campaign was marred by deadly political violence and wrecked the

farm-based economy, leaving the country dependent on international food aid.


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