Africa

Zim government divided over SA torture ruling

AFP

Zimbabwe's justice minister has denounced a South African court's ruling ordering an investigation of those accused of torturing Zanu-PF opponents.

“The ruling brings the South African justice system into disrepute. No specifics have been identified, because they should have laid a blow-by-blow account of what crime has been committed,” Patrick Chinamasa told state media on Wednesday.

In a landmark judgment, the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday ruled that authorities in South Africa can probe and prosecute not only high-level crimes committed in neighbouring Zimbabwe, but anywhere else in the world.

The case centres on Zimbabwean officials accused of state-sanctioned torture against scores of activists following a raid on the headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in 2007.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is now the prime minister in a power-sharing government with Mugabe. His party hailed the decision.

“Torture is a barbaric instrument of dealing with issues of politics,” spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told Agence France-Presse.

“For that reason it remains our wish that all people of Zimbabwe with injured hearts and troubled minds are brought to restorative and rehabilitative, as opposed to retributive, justice ... The pains of the past will always haunt the stability of the future. It is vitally important that things are brought to the table instead of being swept under the carpet.”

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum filed the case in Pretoria seeking to force prosecutors to open an investigation, citing South Africa’s obligations to the International Criminal Court.

The two groups want South Africa to arrest and prosecute 17 Zimbabweans accused of torture in 2007 if they enter the country for holiday, shopping or seeking medical treatment. — AFP

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