HomeLocal NewsZuma ally behind bid to thwart Zim torture probe

Zuma ally behind bid to thwart Zim torture probe

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PRETORIA — Suspended prosecutions boss Menzi Simelane appears to be at the centre of an attempt to thwart the prosecution in South Africa of Zimbabwean government officials accused of torture.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been accused of blocking police investigations into the claims of torture made by Zimbabwe opposition members against high-ranking officials of that country who visit South Africa from time to time.

An affidavit by Anton Ackermann, a senior NPA member, singles out Simelane, the suspended director of public prosecutions, as being behind a campaign to stop Ackermann from telling the court how his bid to have the Zimbabwe officials investigated was stymied.

Simelane was placed on special leave by President Jacob Zuma in December after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that his appointment was “inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid”.

South Africa is obliged under the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, and is part of our domestic law, to enforce international criminal law domestically. This includes war crimes, torture, and crimes against humanity.

The affadavit was lodged in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria late last week by Ackermann, head of the priority crimes litigation unit tasked with “managing and directing the investigation and prosecution of crimes”, especially crimes against humanity.

In the affadavit, Ackerman claims he was refused separate representation, frozen out of the drafting of affidavits and threatened with disciplinary action for holding views contrary to those of the NPA on why the South African Police Services (SAPS) refused to investigate the matter, which relates to an application brought by the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Zimbabwean Exiles Forum that was due to be heard in the High Court on Monday morning, but was postponed until an unspecified date after Simelane appointed new counsel.

SALC is asking the High Court to review and set aside an NPA and SAPS decision not to investigate Zimbabwean officials linked to acts of State-sanctioned torture following a police raid on the headquarters of the Movement for Democratic Change in 2007.

According to Ackermann, he referred the matter to the SAPS for investigation in 2008.

This was refused.

Ackermann says that after the SAPS had formally notified the NPA in May 2009 that they would not investigate the matter, he had notified then acting-NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe that he “was not satisfied with the reasons advanced”.

He was then apparently blocked in his attempts to file papers to air his views in court as to why the matter should have been investigated.

On Monday, the case was postponed after the NPA’s counsel decided that Macadam, who is mentioned extensively in Ackermann’s affidavit, would present arguments concerning all facts unrelated to himself.

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