It might look to some like an exercise in futility, but in reality today’s explanation from the High Court of its findings in the Omar al-Bashir saga is another critical brick in building South Africa’s Constitutional Democracy. And warding off the intentions of those who believe they are above it. Although the ANC’s current ruling clique have scrambled to spin the way they protected the Butcher of Darfur in a palatable manner, what actually happened with al-Bashir leaves little room for interpretation. South Africans are not idiots. Many will be asking why, if ordinary citizens face incarceration when defying court rulings, should politicians be any different? – Alec Hogg
By Adam Wakefield, News24
Johannesburg – The High Court in Pretoria is on Wednesday expected to give its reasons for its ruling that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir be kept in South Africa and arrested.
On June 15, the court ruled the failure to detain Al-Bashir was inconsistent with the Constitution, and he must be detained pending a formal request from the ICC.
The ruling was made Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, along with Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba and Judge Hans Fabricius.
“The respondents are compelled to take reasonable steps to arrest President Al-Bashir without a warrant… and detain him pending a formal request for his surrender from the International Criminal Court,” Mlambo said.
But following the order, William Mokhari, SC, for the government, told the court: “I have been informed by the government that they have reliable information that President Al-Bashir has departed from the Republic.”
He said the state security minister had informed him that the circumstances of Al-Bashir’s departure would be investigated.
The judges then made an order requesting that an affidavit must be filed by the minister in the presidency and the state security minister on how Al-Bashir managed to leave the country.
He is wanted by the ICC to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, which left 300 000 dead.
Al-Bashir had come to South Africa to attend an African Union summit taking place in Johannesburg.
On June 14, Fabricius granted an interim order preventing Al-Bashir from leaving the country pending the application for his arrest.
The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) brought an urgent application to compel South African authorities to arrest Al-Bashir.
It wanted him to be handed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes while he was still in South Africa
The ICC had called on South Africa to respect its obligations to co-operate with the court. The President of the Assembly of States to the Rome Statute of the ICC, Sidiki Kaba, said two arrest warrants issued by the ICC against Al-Bashir remained outstanding.
“The President of the Assembly expresses his deep concern about the negative consequences for the Court in case of non-execution of the warrants by States Parties and, in this regard, urges them to respect their obligations to cooperate with the Court,” the ICC said in a statement at the time.
“To this end, he calls on South Africa, which has always contributed to the strengthening of the Court, to spare no effort in ensuring the execution of the arrest warrants if the information received is confirmed.”