Zimbabwean farmers win legal battle in North Gauteng High Court

While white farmers in Zimbabwe are still facing persecution and oppression, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled in favour of three Zimbabwean farmers today in the case dealing with the seizure of Zimbabwean assets in South Africa. (High_Court_Zim_farmers_Judgm_doc_6_June_11.pdf )

The case concerned an application brought by the Zimbabwean government last year to reverse the seizure of Zimbabwean assets in Cape Town by farmers who were assisted by AfriForum.

The legal battle started after the Tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had ruled in November 2008 that Zimbabwes land-reform processes had been racist and illegal and that farmers ought to have been compensated for their farms.

The protocol introduced by the Tribunal makes provision for the registration and enforcement of the Tribunals orders in the member countries of the SADC.

Based on this protocol, AfriForum assisted three farmers, Louis Fick, Richard Etheredge and the late Mike Campbell, in having the ruling of the SADC Tribunal registered at the North Gauteng High Court.

Shortly after the ruling had been registered, the farmers seized three properties of the Zimbabwean government that were no longer used for diplomatic purposes.

In July last year, the Zimbabwean government instituted a series of court applications to have the seizure of its properties and the registration of the SADCs Tribunal reversed.

AfriForums legal representative, Willie Spies, who acted as the farmers attorney, said in a statement that the door was now open for the sale of Zimbabwes properties in Cape Town that AfriForum seized last year.

The ruling is of historic significance. For probably the first time in international legal history, a court has ruled that the assets of a country guilty of human rights violations must be sold at public auction, Spies said.

Arrangements will be made without delay to have the properties sold at public auction, he added.

Meanwhile, AfriForum has learned that an 87-year-old farmer from Gweru, who is a South African citizen, will be sentenced on 13 June 2011 after he had been arrested and charged for not leaving his farm voluntarily.

If he is found guilty, his sentence could include two years imprisonment in a Zimbabwean prison. Several calls to the Department of International Relations in Pretoria and the South African embassy in Harare by his family to request humanitarian assistance were unsuccessful.

AfriForum is investigating the possibility of taking legal action against the South African government in this regard.
Submitted by / For further information:

Willie Spies
Legal representative
Cell: 083 676 0639
E-mail: [email protected]

Lean du Plessis
Head: Media liaison
Cell: 082 418 8508
E-mail: [email protected]

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