Good news and bad news

CAPE TOWN - This week, after consulting our legal advisors, I can write that despite the signing of the deal, it is unlawful to deport people who had reason to be in South Africa seeking asylum.

This applies for at least a year from the forming of a transitional
government, and has been agreed in order to provide time to assess the
success and safety of a country.

Although this is the law, the vast majority of asylum seekers are being
rejected and their status with the transitional agreement has been
cited as the reason.

It is therefore very important that Zimbabweans know that they have a
right to appeal and a right to legal representation at the appeal
hearing. This legal representation is offered for free by the UCT law
clinic in the Western Cape and by the Wits law clinic in Gauteng.

The bad news is that we have been notified of hundreds of Zimbabweans
being arrested for deportation and there are mixed reports that the
Messina refugee reception centre is being closed. It seems there are
definite attempts to deport as many Zimbabweans as possible before the
elections. The true colours of South Africa's rainbow nation are coming

It is also unfortunate that the judgement of the Kiliko case, which has
been going on since 2004, was dismissed as weak. It was brought against
home affairs for denying him his section 22 asylum-seeking documents
(temporary documents given to people when they apply for refugee status
and are awaiting interviews.) In the judgement, the department of home
affairs was instructed to pay all costs. The court ruling was largely
to end the case and no break throughs were apparent.

However, representatives of the minister did confirm their intention to
offer a separate status to Zimbabweans, but no details were given
accept that they were to implement it soon.' We have heard them talk
about such a status since 2007 and it is unacceptable.

In the Cape Zimbabweans were extremely disturbed by the recent death of
Susan Tsvangirai and we will be holding a memorial gathering during the
week. The details can be obtained by text messaging us on 0832561140.

Please continue to SMS us if you or family members, have been unable
the get service at the refugee centres and are arrested for
deportation. We have now been involved in the release of hundreds of

Zimbabwe's courts continued

In this edition we are going to discuss the different courts in
Zimbabwe, the type of law they apply to and the power and authority of
each court (this is known as the court's jurisdiction.)

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court generally sits with three judges but when dealing
with constitutional matters, it can have five. This court applies both
general and customary law and it has jurisdiction in civil and criminal
appeals. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in constitutional
matters. It hears appeals from the High Court, Administrative Court and
Magistrates' Courts.

High Court

This court is presided over by a judge assisted by two assessors in
criminal cases. It applies both general and customary law. It has
original and unlimited jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters.
It can pass any sentence including the death sentence. It deals with
civil and criminal law trials, civil applications and bail
applications. The other work of this court is to hear appeals from the
Magistrates' Courts, review Magistrates' Courts criminal matters (with
powers to reduce sentence and set aside conviction) and review
decisions of quasi-judicial bodies e.g. Rent Board.

Magistrates Court

This court is presided over by a Magistrate and the court applies both
general and customary law. It has jurisdiction over some civil cases
and all criminal cases except treason, murder and crimes which attract
the death sentence. The court hears appeals and reviews cases from the
Local Courts.

Small Claims Court

This court only sits in Harare and Bulawayo and is presided over by a
Magistrate or a legal practitioner with at least three years experience
appointed by the Minister of Justice. It has jurisdiction over some
civil cases but not divorce, custody, maintenance, interpretation of
wills, defamation and some other civil wrongs.

Local Court

This court is presided over by a Chief or other appointed person and it
applies customary law only. It has jurisdiction over some civil cases
and hears appeals from primary courts.

Primary Court

This court is under the Headman or any other appointed person. It
applies customary law only and it has jurisdiction over some civil

Legal Resources Foundation

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