Zimbabwean human rights violators could lose the right to travel to SA if an appeal due to be brought in the North Gauteng High Court today succeeds in forcing the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to arrest known perpetrators who set foot in the country.

The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), along with the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, is seeking an order setting aside a decision by the NPA not to prosecute 18 identified Zimbabwean human rights violators in the event they travel to SA.

The case, aimed at preventing SA from becoming a haven for those who commit crimes against humanity, is the first such action in the country. It arises from a dossier submitted to the NPA in March last year, two weeks before the violent election in Zimbabwe.

Earlier this year attempts were also made to secure accountability for the victims of the war in Gaza with a dossier being submitted to the NPA, said Nicole Fritz, the head of the SALC.

The Zimbabwe dossier included a legal opinion by advocates Wim Trengove , Gilbert Marcus and Max du Plessis about SA’s obligations under the Implementations of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Act .

The dossier contained numerous affidavits detailing personal experiences of widespread torture at the hands of the Zimbabwean police. Fritz brushed off suggestions that the case could jeopardise the fragile unity government, saying it was meant to prevent a recurrence of such abuses. “Security accountability can help stem the fallout in Zimbabwe,” she said.

Fritz said after a round of correspondence, SALC finally received a letter from the then acting NPA director Mokotedi Mpshe six months ago to the effect that he had been advised that the police did not intend investigating the matter.

The ICC legislation gives South African authorities the power to investigate and prosecute acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, no matter where those acts have been committed. This applies even if the perpetrators are not South African nationals .

The SALC maintained in its submission to the NPA that the senior Zimbabwean officials named travelled to SA fairly often, both for official and personal reasons.

(Source)