ZANU PF left ‘jittery’ by landmark SA court ruling

A leading Zimbabwean pro-democracy activist has said that ZANU PF’s reaction to a landmark South African court ruling this week shows the party has been left shaken by the order, which calls for the authorities there to probe crimes against humanity in Zimbabwe.

The North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday ruled that South Africa must investigate state-sanctioned torture and other crimes against humanity at the hands of Zimbabwean officials in 2007. The ruling is being described as ‘landmark’ for local and international justice, because it means accused ZANU PF officials can be arrested and tried in South Africa for crimes they committed in Zimbabwe.

But ZANU PF has dismissed the ruling as ‘irrelevant’ with the party’s Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa saying it was a general judgement without specifics.

“The ruling brings the South African justice system into disrepute,” Chinamasa said, adding: “it is a sad moment for the justice system in South Africa.”

The ruling Tuesday is the result of a case launched in March by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum. The two groups had asked the High Court to review and set aside a decision made by South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the police not to investigate Zimbabwean officials linked to acts of state-sanctioned torture.

Their case was based on a dossier detailing the attack on MDC members in 2007, which was handed to the NPA in 2008. But a formal investigation was never launched.

Dewa Mavhinga from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition welcomed Tuesday’s ruling as a victory, not only for Zimbabwean torture victims, but for justice in general.

“The judgment comes at a critical time when Zimbabwe is preparing for elections and we expect that it will be a deterrent to overzealous party supporters who may wish to commit political violence,” Mavhinga told SW Radio Africa.

Mavhinga said that ZANU PF’s dismissal of the ruling was a sign of their anger, saying: “They are jittery about what this means for their future.”

“This is an angry and jittery response because all those implicated in political violence and other serious human rights abuses will have to think twice before setting foot in South Africa. It is now clear that authorities in South Africa have clear obligations to investigate and prosecute individuals for crimes against humanity committed in Zimbabwe.” – SW Radio Africa News

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