CAPE TOWN — International legal history will be made today when the first sale in execution of a Zimbabwean property in South Africa takes place in Cape Town, civil rights group AfriForum said.
The sale in execution was a direct result of President Robert Mugabe’s human rights abuses in his country, AfriForum legal representative Willie Spies said in a statement yesterday.
AfriForum successfully assisted a group of 78 dispossessed Zimbabwean commercial farmers to enforce a 2008 ruling by the Southern African Development Community’s (Sadc) regional court, the Sadc Tribunal, in South Africa.
The tribunal ruled that Mugabe’s land grabs were unlawful, racist and in contravention of applicable international law, he said.
The auction was initially put on hold in 2013 after Harare paid compensation to white commercial farmers who lost their land during the controversial land reform programme.
Zimbabwe made full payment of $20 000 after nearly five years of refusing to respect the punitive order, to a trust account of the legal representatives of 78 farmers who challenged the 2000 land seizures in the tribunal but failed to honour cost orders of South Africa’s High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court.
The property is located at 28 Salisbury Road, Kenilworth in Cape Town.
Both Information minister Christopher Mushohwe and Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa could not be reached for comment yesterday.
AfriForum began assisting dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers and human rights activists in the country six years ago in a legal battle after Mugabe refused to comply with the order of the Sadc Tribunal that his illegal land grabs had to stop, Spies said.
The order was registered in the High Court in Pretoria and AfriForum’s lawyers, for the first time in March 2010, attached the property in Cape Town following the enforcement order granted then.
After unsuccessful attempts by the Zimbabwe government in the Pretoria High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the Constitutional Court, to rescind the registration of the judgment in South Africa, the Sheriff of Cape Town would proceed with the auction today.
“AfriForum regards its litigation against the Zimbabwe government as a civil sanction campaign against the ongoing and systemic abuse of human rights and the rule of law, and the destruction of land ownership in Zimbabwe,” he said.
When the auction took place, it would be the first time in history that a decision of a human rights tribunal in Africa led to the sale of property of a country that had been guilty of human rights abuses, at a public auction by the sheriff.
AfriForum has also offered to assist dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers in a separate lawsuit against South African President Jacob Zuma and his ministers of Justice and International Relations.
The case will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria early next year, Spies said. — ANA/STAFF REPORTER