Afriforum wins first round in Zimbabwe case

Published Jan 14, 2010


Pretoria - The civil rights group Afriforum on Wednesday won a court bid to sue Zimbabwe's government over its "cruel" and "revengeful" expropriation of South African owned farms.

Speaking outside the High Court in Pretoria after a ruling that the initiative could serve papers on Zimbabwe, legal representative Willie Spies said it was the first step in recognising the rights of South African citizens in the Southern African Development Community.

"I am relived because to a large extent we played a part in developing our law. The high court has recognised the rights of parties to the SADC tribunal processes to enforce those processes within South African territory."

In 2008 the SADC tribunal ruled that Zimbabwe's land reform was illegal and racist, and that those who had suffered discrimination by having their farms expropriated had the right to compensation.

Spies said the South African government attempted "to a large extent" to intervene, but to little avail.

Afriforum will on February 23 again approach the court to force Zimbabwe and South Africa to register and recognise the SADC tribunal's ruling on land reform.

He said around 318 South African farmers had been subjected to human rights violations which had left many of them in dire straits.

"It was cruelty. Their hard work was destroyed by people who just want to take revenge. We need to find a way to get compensation for them," Spies said.

He said if the next court application was successful first prize for the organisation would see the return of the farms to their South African owners, or give allow them to demand compensation from the Zimbabwean government. - Sapa

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