South Africa Cannot Try Us - Tomana
Harare, May 10, 2012 - Zimbabwe’s top lawyer, Johannes Tomana, this week
said Zimbabwean citizens will not be subjected to South African and
international laws that the country is not part to.
He said this in response to a ruling by a South African court this week
ordering the prosecution of Zimbabwean officials who were involved in the
torture of the then opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party in
The ruling meant that South African authorities can probe and prosecute
crimes committed in neighbouring Zimbabwe under international law.
In his ruling South African judge Hans Fabricius said there are reasonable
grounds for the prosecution of Zimbabwean officials once they step into
"In my view it is clear when an investigation under the ICC Act is
requested, and a reasonable basis exists for doing an investigation,
political considerations or diplomatic initiatives are not relevant," said
Fabricius in his 100 paged judgement.
Several Zimbabwean officials frequently travel to South Africa for shopping
and medical reasons.
They also regularly visit South African universities to see their children
But Tomana dismissed the ruling laughing it off as a political exercise in
“The South African Police Service has no jurisdiction to prosecute us,” said
Johannes Tomana, Attorney General (AG).
The top government lawyer said even the International Criminal Court (ICC)
have no right over Zimbabweans.
“ICC has no jurisdiction to prosecute us. Crimes against Zimbabweans falls
under the laws of Zimbabwe and can only be prosecuted under these laws.
Zimbabwe itself is not party to the ICC charter, it is not a member of the
ICC,” said Tomana adding that there is no prosecuting arrangement between
Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“I am not aware of such arrangement between South Africa and us and between
us and ICC to prosecute Zimbabweans. In a way we are disappointed by this
political decision,” Tomana added.
The ICC is a Netherlands based court established to prosecute individuals
for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Zimbabwe is not part to the Rome Statute which established the court on 1
The ruling by the South African court was sponsored by the Southern Africa
Litigation Centre (SALC) and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum who brought a case
before the court seeking to force prosecutors to open an investigation,
citing South Africa's ICC obligations.
The two groups want South Africa to arrest and prosecute 17 Zimbabweans
accused of torture in 2007 if they enter the country for holiday, shopping
or seeking medical treatment.
South African prosecutors had refused to investigate the allegations, citing
among other things political concerns which brought about sensitivity around
that country’s role as the mediator to the country’s political crisis.