Government says it will look into Bashir's departure

African Union chairperson Robert Mugabe says President Jacob Zuma had vowed not to arrest the Sudanese president. (Delwyn Verasamy, MG)

African Union chairperson Robert Mugabe says President Jacob Zuma had vowed not to arrest the Sudanese president. (Delwyn Verasamy, MG)

In a statement on Monday, acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said: “Government notes the judgment of the North Gauteng High Court on the matter regarding Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

“As indicated in court, government will enquire the circumstances under which President al-Bashir left the country. We will also comply with the court order relating to submission of an affidavit outlining these circumstances.

“We will, however, await written reasons of the judgment as indicated by the court.”

The high court in Pretoria has demanded an explanation as to why Bashir was allowed to leave South Africa on Monday, despite an interim court order barring him from doing so.

“We request an affidavit to be filed with the registrar of this court within seven days, disclosing the time when he left, the port of entry or exit that he used,” Judge President Dunstan Mlambo told the government’s legal counsel, advocate William Mokhari.

“It is of concern to this court that it issues orders and then things just happen in violation of those orders. Be that as it may, that is an order we issue under the circumstances.”

Mlambo made the order, on behalf of a full bench of judges presiding over the high profile matter on Monday. He said the three judges were of the view that Bashir should have been detained by South African authorities.

Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against some of the tribes of Sudan’s western Darfur region. Two warrants of arrest were issued against him in 2009 and 2010. As a member of the ICC, South Africa is obliged to arrest him and surrender him to the ICC.

Zuma stated he would not allow Bashir’s arrest – Mugabe
African Union chairperson Robert Mugabe said at a media briefing following the closing of the AU summit that President Jacob Zuma had vowed to not allow police to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.

“Zuma was telling me that one of the NGOs went to court, and I am quite sure they were used by outsiders,” the Zimbabwean president said.

“He [Zuma] said President Bashir would not be arrested, as he would not allow police here to arrest him.”

The summit, which was held from June 7, was officially closed by Mugabe some time after midnight.

Bashir departed for Sudan on Monday, despite a high court order preventing him from leaving South Africa. His departure sent mixed reactions across the country, with opposition parties accusing the government of violating a court order.

Mugabe said the ICC was not wanted in the continent.

“This is not the headquarters of the ICC, we don’t want it in this region at all. There is a view that we should withdraw from the ICC … unfortunately, the treaty that set up the court was not signed by the AU, but by individual countries,” Mugabe added.

“The ICC was there to help us try cases, especially cases of violence in any country during an election, but those who signed are now regretting that. As Zimbabwe we said no to submitting ourselves to outside justice, we never signed up with ICC.”

Non-governmental organisations such as the Southern Africa Litigation Centre were used and funded by foreign governments.

“There is no African country without an NGO, which is nonsense. Their host country did not set them up, they were set up by other governments, mainly European governments who pay them to be their informers about our actions, and how we run our countries.”

AU commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said there was no issue at the AU about Bashir attending the summit.

“Sudan is a member of the AU and he [Bashir] always attends, I don’t know what the fuss is all about.”

“When a country prepares to host, it signs an agreement with the AU on what is expected of it and the country hosts according to the requirements of the AU.”

She added that the AU had no relations with the ICC.

“The AU has nothing to do with the ICC, the ICC has states as parties to it, AU is not a state so there was nothing new regarding President Bashir as he always attends the meeting anywhere in the continent,” Dlamini-Zuma concluded at the summit. 

SA govt decision a ‘shocking failure’
Meanwhile, Amnesty International slammed the South African government for its decision to allow al-Bashir to evade an international arrest warrant for genocide.

In a statement, Amnesty said: “The South African government’s shocking failure to heed to its own court order and arrest Sudanese president Omar Bashir is a betrayal to the hundreds of thousands of victims who were killed during the Darfur conflict.”

“South Africa’s role was clear from the day president Omar Al-Bashir touched down in the country – he should have been arrested and handed over to the ICC to face trial for the war crimes he is alleged to have committed,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

“By failing to hand President Omar Al-Bashir over to the ICC during his stay in the country, the South African authorities, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, have through their inaction, aided Omar Al-Bashir in his quest to avoid justice.

“It is completely unacceptable and shocking for South Africa, as a member of the ICC, to ignore its international obligations in this way and allow impunity free rein. Not only has it undermined the country’s commitment to the ICC, it has ridden roughshod over the rights and hopes for justice of all those people who were killed and displaced during the war in Darfur.”– ANA

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