DISPOSSESSED white farmers in Zimbabwe have struck back through the South African courts by seizing a property in Cape Town owned by government.
The house has been attached by the sheriff’s office after a South African court ruled that it could be sold and the proceeds given to the farmers.
“We see it as a way to send out a message to show the Zimbabwean government that there are certain consequences to their abuse of human rights,” said Willie Spies, the farmers’ lawyer.
The legal action arises from a November 2008 ruling by the tribunal of the Southern African Development Community, a regional body which includes Zimbabwe.
This found that President Robert Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned land without compensation had been “racist and unlawful”.
Mugabe described this decision as “nonsense” and his government ignored the tribunal. The tribunal then found that Zimbabwe was in contempt. South Africa’s courts have now ruled in favour of farmers seeking to attach Zimbabwean government properties in the country in lieu of compensation for the seized land.
Four houses in Cape Town have been identified so far. Their value is insignificant relative to the evicted landowners’ compensation claims but they believe the judgments have huge symbolic importance.
There is speculation that the seizure of government-owned properties could be followed by action to impound aircraft of the state-owned Air Zimbabwe. But this could be unpopular and undermine whatever sympathy the farmers have. –– Financial Times.