CAPE TOWN– International legal history was made on Monday when a Zimbabwean government property was sold for millions in Cape Town, said civil rights group AfriForum.
The sale was a direct result of President Robert Mugabe’s human rights abuses in his country, AfriForum’s legal representative Willie Spies said in a statement.
The property, situated at 28 Salisbury Road, Kenilworth, Cape Town was sold to a private bidder for an amount of R3.76 million.
“AfriForum successfully assisted a group of dispossessed Zimbabwean commercial farmers to enforce a 2008 ruling by the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) regional court, the SADC Tribunal, in South Africa. The tribunal ruled that Mugabe’s land grabs were unlawful, racist, and in contravention of applicable international law”, he said.
After a five-year legal battle, “the property was auctioned because the Zimbabwean government failed to honor cost orders of South Africa’s High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court,” he said.
The civil rights group said it began helping dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers and human rights activists in the country in a legal battle six years ago after Mugabe refused to comply with the order of the SADC Tribunal that his illegal land grabs had to stop.
“The order was registered in the High Court in Pretoria and AfriForum’s lawyers, for the first time in March 2010, attached the property in Cape Town following the enforcement order granted then,” Spies said.
Spies said: “After unsuccessful attempts by the Zimbabwean government in the Pretoria High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court to rescind the registration of the judgment in South Africa, the Sheriff of Wynberg North proceeded with the auction.”
“This was the first time in history that a decision of a human rights tribunal in Africa led to the sale of a property of the country that has been guilty of human rights abuses,” he said.
AfriForum is also assisting dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers in a separate lawsuit against President Jacob Zuma and his ministers of justice and international relations.
This lawsuit, Spies explained, “is in response to the South African government’s complicity in the illegal process that led to the suspension of the SADC Tribunal’s power to adjudicate on human rights abuses against citizens of member states”.
The case would be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria early next year, said the civil rights group. – ANA