Zimbabwe torturers face prosecution in South Africa

By Tichaona Sibanda
17 March 2008

Members of the country’s security forces who have killed, tortured, and persecuted opposition figures, could face prosecution in South Africa for crimes against humanity.

The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) has in the past month compiled a dossier, which includes the names of middle ranked police officers and also senior government officials.
The SALC has already submitted the dossier to that country’s National Prosecuting Authority’s priority crimes unit.

Nicole Fritz, a director for SALC, told Newsreel from Johannesburg on Monday that her organisation was urging the NPA’s priority crimes unit to initiate investigations, with a view to prosecuting those responsible for crimes against humanity.

‘We are not disclosing who is named in the dossier but it includes people who have committed the most serious of crimes against opposition figures, most of whom have sought refuge in South Africa,’ Fritz said.

According to Fritz, the intention behind the initiative is to ensure some form of accountability for Zimbabweans, at a time when the justice system in the country has all but collapsed, and to secure South Africa against becoming a ‘safe haven’ for perpetrators of international crimes.

Because of Zimbabwe’s economic collapse, many of those named have travelled to South Africa to obtain commodities and services, including healthcare.

It’s believed the dossier includes names of the ‘political masters,’ individuals who have given out orders to the rank and file of the security forces to unleash violence against innocent civilians. Fritz said several of the perpetrators named in the dossier have in the past travelled to South Africa on official business, in some instances for military and security exchange programmes between the two countries.

South Africa’s implementation of the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court Act of 2002, permits prosecutions for crimes against humanity of those who are not South African nationals. A person tortured in Zimbabwe, but now residing in South Africa, can have the perpetrators prosecuted in that country.

 


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