A legal precedent has been set in Cape Town after a house belonging to the Zimbabwean government was auctioned off to recoup legal funds it owes to a local activist organisation.
The double storey house in Kenilworth was snapped up by Arthur Tsimakopoulos‚ who is described as a “property flipper”‚ for just over R3.7-million.
The money will go towards legal costs incurred by the President Robert Mugube’s government during a lengthy litigation with AfriForum in the South African courts.
AfriForum assisted a group of dispossessed Zimbabwean farmers to enforce a 2008 ruling by the Southern African Development Community Tribunal which found that the country’s land grabs unlawful‚ racist and in contravention of international law.
In February 2010 the activist group took the matter to the High Court in Pretoria‚ which ruled that the tribunal’s findings were applicable in South Africa.
The Zimbabwean government challenged the ruling up to the Constitutional Court and lost.
AfriForum’s Willie Spies hailed the auction as a victory for Zimbabwean farmers who had lost their land.
“It is significant to any person who has lost everything to know that‚ at least‚ in the neighbouring countries‚ justice still prevails‚” said Spies. “People will look at this and say‚ this is not the way to do things‚ the law should be upheld.”
Zimbabwean officials at the house looked on as bidders competed. They declined to talk to the media.