Torture case reaches top SA court

The South African Supreme Court of Appeal will on Friday this week hear arguments in the landmark Zimbabwe torture case, which was brought by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Zimbabwean Exiles Forum to compel South Africa to abide by its domestic and international legal obligations to investigate and prosecute high level Zimbabwean officials accused of crimes against humanity.

“The earlier High Court ruling in this case was very clear – the South African authorities have a legal duty to investigate allegations of torture against senior Zimbabwean officials,” said Angela Mudukuti, SALC’s international criminal justice project lawyer. “The Supreme Court of Appeal has the opportunity to reinforce that decision and ensure that perpetrators of these terrible crimes do not find sanctuary in South Africa – and are held accountable for their actions.”

In May 2012, the North Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of SALC and ZEF and set aside the decision of the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Services) not to initiate an investigation into state-sanctioned torture in Zimbabwe, following a police raid on the headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change in 2007.

Judge Hans Fabricius held that the South African authorities had not acted in accordance with their obligations under the domestic legislation and ruled that the decision had been taken unlawfully and unconstitutionally.

The NPA and SAPS petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal after the High Court refused leave to appeal.

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