Zef chairperson Gabriel Shumba said this in response to the South African government’s refusal to investigate and prosecute high-level Zanu PF officials accused of perpetrating violence in Zimbabwe in 2007. “We are relying on South Africa to use the Implementation of the Rome Statute Act to prosecute those implicated in human rights violations,” he said.
Shumba also challenged South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation team to broaden its mission by engaging ordinary people, saying that would enable it to possibly assist the victims of impunity and injustices such as “Gukurahundi and election violence”.
This was after Lindiwe Zulu, Zuma’s international relations advisor, told the Zimbabwe Independent that Pretoria would only act if the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues an international warrant of arrest.
Zef and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (Salc) launched a landmark case before the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on March 26. Court records seen by the Independent show South Africa refrained from investigating and arresting Zanu PF officials implicated in violence fearing this would be construed as interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs and cause a diplomatic rift.
Zef and Salc argued South Africa’s ratification of the Rome Statute and its consequent enactment of the ICC Act had placed clearly binding obligations that committed it to the investigation and prosecution of serious international crimes regardless of where they are committed.
South African police and Public Prosecutions departments said: “The arrest in South Africa of Zimbabwean cabinet ministers would have a major effect on the functioning of a sensitive safety and security portfolio in that country and it is only to be expected that this would lead to a diplomatic rift between the two countries.”