AfriForum welcomes Supreme Court of Appeal ruling on Zim farmers

The civil rights organization AfriForum welcomes today’s ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein in favour of a group of Zimbabwean farmers. The farmers have successfully appealed against an earlier ruling of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in the epic legal battle of Zimbabwean farmers against the South African government.

In December 2020, Judge Frits van Oosten ruled in the North Gauteng High Court that there was no causal link between the damage suffered by Zimbabwean farmers due to South Africa’s participation in the termination of the SADC tribunal’s activities and the actual harm suffered by the farmers. The Supreme Court upheld the exception at the time, with the result that it would be extremely difficult for the farmers to continue their claim of millions of rands against the South African government. The ruling made by the Supreme Court of Appeal today set aside the earlier ruling of the North Gauteng High Court, which upheld the exception on causality.

The legal representative of the Zimbabwean farmers is Willie Spies, who also acts as the legal representative of AfriForum. Spies said his clients were delighted with the outcome of the proceedings of the Court of Appeal. He considered the ruling to be of historical value since it was probably the first time that the Court of Appeal allowed the institution of a subpoena against the South African government for misconduct committed outside the country’s borders.

Spies indicated that the next step would be for the South African government to submit a defence plea to the summonses issued. After that, the process must go its ordinary course to a trial in the North Gauteng High Court, during which the High Court will consider the farmers’ claim.

Since the start of the Zimbabwean land reform process of expropriation without compensation in 2000, the Zimbabwean economy has collapsed and never recovered. Several white farmers evicted from their farms in Zimbabwe have been plunged into poverty, and unemployment and famine have skyrocketed. It is of the utmost importance that South Africa learns lessons from Zimbabwe’s experience. The courts must take a clear stand against the complicity of the South African government under the leadership of former President Jacob Zuma in 2014, which led to SADC citizens being deprived of the right to have their human rights tried in an international court.

The verdict is an important milestone in this epic struggle which will continue until justice is done for the Zimbabwean farmers.

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