Zim farmers going to court over costs of suit

Alana Bailey August 2, 2010

Zimbabwean farmers represented by AfriForum will apply to the North Gauteng High Court tomorrow (3 August 2010) for a special order to pay costs against the government of Zimbabwe, following the latter’s unilateral scrapping of their urgent application against the farmers from the roll, without offering to compensate the farmers for wasted expenditure.

This step comes after the Zimbabwean government erroneously lodged an urgent application against the farmers because the government was apparently under the impression that the auction of properties in Cape Town, scheduled for 27 July and 10 August, had been organised by AfriForum and the farmers.

Although the farmers were the first ones to seize the properties, the auctions were organised by German banking group KFW Bank Gruppe. Despite the fact that the correct facts had been widely reported in the media, the Zimbabwean government erroneously lodged an urgent application against the Zimbabwean farmers Louis Fick, Richard Etheredge and Michael Campbell. AfriForum is assisting the three farmers in their legal battle against the Zimbabwean government.

All three of the farmers were violently expelled from their farms and the elderly Mr Michael Campbell’s health seriously deteriorated after he was brutally attacked by people occupying his farm two years ago. He sustained serious head injuries in the attack. His house on the farm Mount Carmel was also burnt to the ground.

Mr Louis Fick is still being prosecuted in Zimbabwe because he allegedly did not cooperate in the land reform programme and if he is found “guilty”, he could be imprisoned for two years in Zimbabwe.

AfriForum’s legal representative, Willie Spies, said that it is clear that the Zimbabwean government is randomly trying to further jeopardise the three farmers by means of court applications. Although they were deprived of their income by the Zimbabwean government, they have to incur high legal costs for their court cases against the Zimbabwean government. The Zimbabwean government, in turn, is refusing to the honour orders to pay costs that are older than one year (including an order by the SADC tribunal).

“This fruitless application lodged by Zimbabwe against the farmers and its unilateral scrapping from the roll has brought about further costs for the already disadvantaged farmers. That is why an application will be lodged with the High Court in Pretoria for a special order to pay costs against the Zimbabwean,” Spies said.

The case will be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria tomorrow (3 August 2010). The court proceedings will commence at 10:00.

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About Alana Bailey, the author

Alana is the Deputy CEO of AfriForum, a civil rights initiative established by Solidarity in order to activate minority communities outside the realm of party politics in order to become involved in the public debate. AfriForum is responsible for a broad range of campaigns aimed at the protection of civil rights, including lobbying for language rights, opposition against crime and continued support for remigrating South Africans via the Come Home Campaign.