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South Africa/Zimbabwe: Case challenging NPA’s refusal to investigate cases of torture committed in Zimbabwe

In 2008, SALC submitted a dossier to the South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) containing comprehensive evidence of the involvement of eighteen Zimbabwean security officials in perpetrating torture, and requested the NPA and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to initiate an investigation. The NPA has an obligation to investigate cases of alleged international crimes under the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act. South Africa is obliged to investigate and prosecute anyone who commits a crime against humanity as defined by the International Criminal Court. After the NPA and SAPS refused to initiate an investigation, SALC and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) took this decision on review to the North Gauteng High Court.

On 8 May 2012 Judge Hans Fabricius ruled in SALC’s favour and ordered the NPA and SAPS to initiate an investigation. This decision was taken on appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) by the NPA and SAPS. On 26 November 2013, the SCA held that SAPS is both empowered and required to investigate the crimes against humanity detailed in the dossier.

In January 2014 only SAPS applied for leave to appeal the SCA decision. The matter was heard in the Constitutional Court and on 30 October 2014 the Constitutional Court unanimously ruled that SAPS have a duty to investigate and ordered that investigations begin without delay.

For more information on the case please see the Q and A.

Constitutional Court:

Amici Curiae Submissions:

Supreme Court of Appeal:

Judgment and Analysis:

The High Court Papers:

News releases & Case in the News

23 May 2020 – 6 years after the torture docket case – what is the current status of the investigation?
13 Nov 2014 – South Africa’s police must investigate Zimbabwe torture.
13 Nov 2014 – SAPS to investigate torture in Zimbabwe.
3 Nov 2014 – Torture in Zimbabwe is in SA cops’ ambit.
30 Oct 2014 – Con Court-SA police obliged to probe Zimbabwe torture.
21 May 2014 – South African court reserves judgment in Zimbabwe torture case.
10 Feb 2014 – Understanding the Zimbabwe torture case.
24 Jan 2014 – SALC challenges SA police appeal to Constitutional Court.
27 Nov 2013 – Zim torture investigation must go ahead, says SA court.
13 July 2012 –  Police, NPA to appeal ruling in torture case.
24 April 2012 – Analysis of SALC’s Zimbabwe torture case – universal jurisdiction in action.
28 March 2012 – Zimbabwe torture case: Day 3.
27 March 2012 – Zimbabwe torture case: 2nd day’s hearing.
26 March 2012 – Zimbabwe torture case: 1st day’s hearing.
4 Dec 2008 – News release from Southern Africa Litigation Centre

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