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S.Africa's Prosecuting Authority Says May Appeal Zimbabwe Torture Ruling

The South African prosecuting authority says it is considering appealing Tuesday's High Court ruling compelling Pretoria to investigate and prosecute Zimbabweans, in particular senior Zanu PF officials, suspected of crimes against humanity.

Spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga of the South African National Prosecuting Authority told VOA Wednesday they have two weeks to appeal the ruling.

He said the authority is currently discussing with the police on how best to respond.

Judge Hans Fabricius ordered the NPA to prosecute Zimbabweans concerned if they ever set foot in South Africa.

The case was brought to the courts by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre along with the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, which represents many Zimbabweans who say they fled to South Africa after being tortured by security agents for supporting the Movement for Democratic Change.

The High Court decision could prod South Africa into investigations into high-ranking Harare officials, a move many say would strain already difficult diplomatic relations with the power-sharing government in Zimbabwe.

But speaking to state television Tuesday, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the decision is “a wish by the South African judge pushing an agenda of former Rhodesians” whom he said want to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.

He said the decision will not be entertained by Zimbabwe.

“The ruling brings the South African justice system into disrepute,” said Chinamasa.

“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 generalized opinion is a sad moment for the justice system in South Africa.”

Legal expert Alex Magaisa says Chinamasa’s remarks are off the mark, adding the ruling is significant.