SA court to hear Zim torture case

South Africas North Gauteng High Court is on Monday expected to begin hearing a landmark case brought by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (Salc) and the Zimbabwean Exiles Forum (ZEF) to compel the Pretoria government to investigate and prosecute high-level Zanu PF officials accused of crimes against humanity.

Salc executive director Nicole Fritz said they had applied to the High Court asking for a review and setting aside of the decision of the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Services not to investigate Zimbabwean officials linked to acts of State-sanctioned torture.

The case is premised on a raid at the MDC-T headquarters in Harare by armed police in 2007.

The High Court has an opportunity to set an important precedent, which will ensure that South Africa lives up to its legal responsibilities to prosecute the perpetrators of international crimes wherever they are committed, Fritz said.

This case marks the first time that a South African court will have the opportunity to provide guidance on the scope and nature of the obligations placed on the South African authorities by signing up to the International Criminal Court.

The week-long hearings are set to end on March 31. Top South African lawyers Wim Trengove SC, Gilbert Marcus SC and Max du Plessis are representing the litigants.

Salc is a human rights body that monitors cases of violation of the rule of law in Southern Africa while ZEF seeks to combat impunity and achieve justice for human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

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