By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
05 February 2014
Human rights organizations have opposed a Constitutional Court appeal by the South African police, against an order compelling Pretoria to investigate human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
The South African Supreme Court of Appeal in November last year upheld a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court which compelled the authorities to investigate torture in Zimbabwe.
The South African prosecuting authorities had appealed against the High Court ruling in 2012, which said authorities have a duty to act on the evidence of torture as required by the Rome Statute to which South Africa is a signatory.
The Statute is the founding law of the International Criminal Court.
The ruling, which set a precedent for the investigation of crimes against humanity committed outside South Africa, was based on a dossier of evidence submitted by the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum and the Southern African Litigation Centre.
The dossier was handed over to the South African National Prosecuting Authority and the police. It detailed cases of torture against opposition members and rights activists by ZANU PF members.
In December 2013 human rights activist Ben Freeth, supplied more evidence of torture to the South African authorities. But the South African police three weeks ago appealed again and this time to the Constitutional Court.
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum director Gabriel Shumba, told SW Radio Africa’s Cutting Edge programme Wednesday that lawyers for ZEF and the Southern Africa Litigation Center filed opposing papers on January 20th.
Shumba said their argument was that it is possible for South Africa to probe human rights violations in Zimbabwe, even if Zimbabwe is not a signatory to the Rome Statute.
Speaking on the same programme Angela Mudukuti from the litigation centre said they were waiting for the court to set the date for the hearing of the matter. She said they are confident of sailing through on the case which has gone on for six years.