JUDGMENT DAY: SOUTH AFRICAN COURT TO RULE ON ZIMBABWE TORTURE CASE
Johannesburg– The North Gauteng High Court will deliver its judgment tomorrow in the landmark case brought by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Zimbabwean Exiles Forum (ZEF) on whether South Africa is required to investigate and prosecute high level Zimbabwean officials accused of crimes against humanity.
“This judgment holds out the strongest prospect yet of Zimbabwean officials having to account for their crimes, given the culture of impunity that prevails there,” said Nicole Fritz, Executive Director of SALC. “A positive decision will also underline South Africa’s own interest in not being a safe haven for the world’s worst criminals, no matter where they come from.”
What – Judge Hans Fabricius will deliver judgement in the precedent-setting case of Southern Africa Litigation Centre and Another v National Director of Public Prosecutions and Others
Where– Court Room 4B, North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria
When – 09:30 Tuesday 8 May
In March 2012, SALC and ZEF argued that the decision of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Services (SAPS) not to investigate Zimbabwean officials linked to acts of state-sanctioned torture should be set aside. Brought in terms of South Africa’s International Criminal Court Act, which defines torture as a crime against humanity, the applicants’ argued that the NPA and SAPS had failed to take into account South Africa’s international and domestic law obligations to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of international crimes regardless of where they are committed or by whom.
The case highlighted South Africa’s duty to investigate crimes against humanity, the sufficiency of the evidence presented by SALC to the NPA and SAPS to trigger an investigation and how irrelevant considerations – such as political concerns – improperly influenced the decision. The case also exposed divisions within the NPA after Anton Ackermann, the head of the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit that is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of international crimes, stated in an affidavit that he believed that an investigation should have been initiated and that he was not satisfied with the manner in which SALC’s request was dealt with.
For more information and interviews contact:
Nicole Fritz, SALC Executive Director, +27 11 587 5065, Cell +27 82 600 1028; NicoleF@salc.org.za
Gabriel Shumba, ZEF Chairperson, Cell +27 72 639 3795
Alan Wallis, SALC, Off + 27 11 587 5065, Cell +27 82 826 5700; AlanW@salc.org.za
For live updates from the court:@Follow_SALC or @NicoleFritz
SALC promotes human rights and the rule of law in southern Africa through litigation, advocacy and training. ZEF seeks to combat impunity and achieve justice for human rights violations in Zimbabwe and to support Zimbabweans in exile. Lawyers for Human Rights represented SALC and ZEF in this matter.
For the background and overview of the case click HERE