An international group says the South African government has opened investigations into rape allegations leveled against Zanu-PF supporters during the run-up to the bloody 2008 elections.
Aids Free World revealed at a press conference in Johannesburg that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) have formally agreed to open an investigation into the rape allegations against Zanu-PF supporters in the run-up to the polls.
South African courts have previously ruled that all Zimbabweans who perpetrated rights abuses should be arrested and tried if they entered South Africa. Many, however, questioned Pretoria’s political will to implement the judgment.
According to the Aids Free World, the decision by the NPA and SAPS to investigate and prosecute rape crimes committed in Zimbabwe in 2008, was made following a formal request from the organization.
After the violent presidential elections in 2008, Aids Free World, with the help of some non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe, interviewed 84 women who alleged they were gang raped by people they named and identified as Zanu-PF supporters.
Paula Donovan, co-director at Aids Free World, said the politically-motivated rape cases were so brutal and systematic that they constituted crimes against humanity.
The organization said it decided to approach South Africa to investigate and prosecute the crimes under the Rome statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
It said this action was taken after considering that prosecuting crimes against humanity was not possible either inside Zimbabwe or at the ICC since the country is not a member.
Under the Rome Statutes ratified by South Africa, the country has an obligation to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity if they enter South Africa.