National Commissioner of the South African Police Service v Southern African Human Rights Litigation Centre and another 2015 (1) SA 315 (CC)

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    On 30 October 2014 the Constitutional Court of South Africa (CC) handed down a judgment in an appeal from the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service in National Commissioner of the South African Police Service v Southern African Human Rights Litigation Centre and another (the ‘judgment’).1 The court confirmed the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in National Commissioner of the South African Police Service v Southern African Human Rights Litigation Centre.2 The case concerned the investigative powers and obligations of the National Prosecuting Authority (‘NPA’) and the South African Police Service (‘SAPS’) in relation to alleged crimes against humanity (widespread torture) perpetrated by Zimbabwean nationals in Zimbabwe. It involved a consideration of the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002 (‘ICC Act’).3 Put differently, the case involved the exercise of jurisdiction by a South African domestic court (and the logically antecedent exercise of investigative powers by the relevant authorities) over allegations of crimes against humanity – in particular, the crime of torture – committed in another country. The court ordered that the SAPS are indeed empowered to investigate the alleged offences, irrespective of whether or not the alleged perpetrators are present in South Africa and, more importantly, that there was a duty on South African authorities to do.