Chinamasa dismisses SA court ruling
Harare: A recent South African court judgement that wants Pretoria to investigate Zimbabwean officials for alleged human rights abuses brings the SA justice system into disrepute, a Cabinet minister has said. Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday described the ruling as irrelevant saying it was a general judgement without specifics.
Judge Hans Fabricius handed down the judgement in Pretoria last week saying it would stem the flood of 'economic and political refugees' into South Africa.
The ruling becomes the first ever under South Africa's statutes spelling out its international law obligations.
Human Rights lawyer Nicole Fritz of the South African Litigation Centre joined the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum to bring the lawsuit. Minister Chinamasa said this was part of efforts by ex-Rhodesians pushing for illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.
He said the ruling was part of an agenda aimed at putting Zimbabwe in the spotlight ahead of a visit to Zimbabwe by the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Ms Navi Pillay. Ms Pillay is expected in Zimbabwe later this month.
"These people are working in cahoots with the ex-Rhodies who brought a case against Government on the land issue," said Minister Chinamasa. They use the same source of funding to push a vendetta by white former colonial masters to cast Zimbabwe in the worst light to the world."
Minister Chinamasa said Zimbabwe's leadership had done nothing to bring it under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Courts.
"The ruling brings the South African justice system into disrepute," he said. "No specifics have been identified because they should have laid a blow to blow account of what crime has been committed. That the court made a ruling based on a generalised opinion is a sad moment for the justice system in South Africa."
Minister Chinamasa described the ruling as a generalised order as it does not identify the people to be arrested and prosecuted for the alleged crimes.
He said the ICC had no jurisdiction over Zimbabwe as the country was not a State party to the Rome Statute that constituted it.
"We were appalled by the arrest and prosecution of African leaders and felt that we cannot belong to a politicised criminal justice system," said Minister Chinamasa. The worst offenders are (George) Bush and (Tony) Blair for their crimes against the people of Iraq but are living scot-free.
"This is being used to target leaders from weak nations and the ICC was created to solely prosecute African leaders in the West's bid to re-colonise the continent."
Minister Chinamasa said South Africa had no jurisdiction to arrest and try Zimbabweans for alleged crimes from within.
"Even if a Zimbabwean commits a crime in South Africa and escapes back home they have got to go through the necessary legal processes for the person to be extradited to that country for trial," he said.
Minister Chinamasa said Zimbabwe last extended an invitation to Commissioner Pillay to visit in February this year but she could not make it because of other commitments.
"We had warned her in advance that news of her coming to Zimbabwe would trigger negative stories to colour her appreciation of the situation in Zimbabwe," he said.
"We have since seen cases of well orchestrated and fabricated stories to throw Zimbabwe into the public eye showing that our human rights record is bad.
"This is part of an orchestrated plan in which the MDC-T has made allegations against the police for disrupting their rally in Kambuzuma when their high ranking officials assaulted a police officer.
"This is not acceptable in any country including in the West which is clamouring for the observation of human rights in Zimbabwe," he said.
Minister Chinamasa said Government anticipated a surge of such negative reports before the arrival of Ms Pillay.
The South African judge said South Africa should hold Zimbabwean officials responsible for alleged crimes. But South African prosecutors indicated that such investigations would be beyond their mandate.