Sunday, July 21, 2013
South African Constitutional Court ruling regarding the 2008 SADC Tribunal judgement in favor of Zimbabwe farmers.
In 2008 a group of Zimbabwe Farmers succeeded in winning a judgement for recovery of damages for the loss of their farms against the Zimbabwe Government. The judgement was rendered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal. That judgement had to be enforced by a court. The court that the Farmers requested to enforce the judgement was the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria (High Court). The High Court ordered the payment of the judgement through attachment of Zimbabwe property in South Africa.
Zimbabwe appealed this decision. This month the Constitutional Court of South Africa, in a majority opinion written by Chief Justice Mogoeng, agreed with the lower court's decision to attach Zimbabwe property located in South Africa. The Court stated that it had extended the common law on enforcement of foreign judgments to include SADC Tribunal rulings. Additionally, the Chief Justice stated that the SADC Tribunal was established for this purpose, to allow citizens of SADC member states to seek redress for acts by those states.
The SADC Tribunal was suspended in 2010 and reorganized in terms of purpose in 2012. Additionally, several properties owned by Zimbabwe in SA have been given diplomatic immunity and so cannot be attached in order to satisfy the judgement. One property was not able to be given such immunity and was attached in execution of the debt for the judgement.