THE South African Police Service does not have the power to investigate claims of crimes against humanity committed in Zimbabwe if the perpetrators were not in South Africa, the Constitutional Court heard yesterday.
The court heard arguments on whether South African authorities were empowered, under the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, to investigate claims of torture against senior Zimbabwean officials in their absence.
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega is appealing against last year’s Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruling that police are empowered to investigate the alleged offences, irrespective of whether or not the alleged perpetrators were in South Africa.
The case started in 2008 when the Southern African Litigation Centre and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum presented a docket to the National Prosecuting Authority’s priority crimes litigation unit, detailing acts of torture allegedly committed after a raid by Zimbabwean police on the headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
When the police refused to investigate, the forum and the centre approached the Pretoria High Court to review the decision.
In 2012, the court ordered the police to investigate the claims which was taken on appeal to the SCA by Phiyega.
The application failed, with the SCA holding that the police were required to initiate an investigation under the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act.
Judgment was reserved. – Ernest Mabuza