Opposition rants as Court prepares reasons for al-Bashir arrest ruling

BY CHARL BOSCH - JUNE 24, 2015

Pretoria High Court Judge President, Dunstan Mlambo, is reportedly expected to provide reasoning later today as to why the court ruled that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir should have stayed in South Africa and face possible arrest for crimes against humanity.

al-Bashir, who was attending a summit of the African Union last week, left the country some two hours after the court found in a favour of an application to have him arrested and handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the reported genocide of 300 000 people in Darfur.

It has however been alleged that his sudden departure was the result of an orchestrated plot involving high ranking Ministers, a claim denied by government.

“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 at the ruling.

Moments later, State Advocate William Mokhari confirmed that al-Bashir’s private jet had departed from the Waterkloof Air Force Base with The Sunday Times claiming his escorting to have taken place under a Presidential Protection Unit blue light convoy.

During a special sitting of the National Assembly yesterday, opposition parties lashed out at government for ignoring the order with Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Stevens Mokgalapa, who opened the debate, describing the action as a “happening at a shameful time in South African history”.

“The Executive have directly violated Parliamentary authority by not adhering to our international obligations. It must then be asked, what is the purpose of this Parliament ratifying treaties when the Executive decides on a whim to defy them?

“The Government, under President Zuma, has failed in its duty to uphold the Constitution, has failed the people of South Africa and failed those who were murdered and displaced in Darfur,” Mokgalapa said.

In a similar reaction, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Chief Whip, Floyd Shivambu, stated that the issue was mostly due to government’s failure on how to handle inadequacies relating to international justice and peace, and that his party was in disagreement with what he described as the “selective prosecution producers of the ICC for Africans”.

“It was naïve for whoever took government to court to think that it could be wise to arrest a head of state in South Africa. It was going to lead to instability in his country and threaten the security of ours,” Shivambu said.

“If the ICC has to be trusted by everyone, it should take action to arrest the Prime Minister of Morocco for the illegal occupation of the Western Sahara, arrest George W. Bush and Tony Blair for the illegal war in Iraq, it should arrest Benjamin Netanyahu for the devastation of Palestine, arrest Barack Obama and President Zuma for colluding to kill Muammar Gaddafi, and arrest Cyril Ramaphosa for the killing the mineworkers at Marikana”.

DA Federal Chairperson James Selfe later blasted government’s referring to al-Bashir as “his excellency”, stating that “the only thing he is excellent at is killing people".

“He is the subject of a warrant of arrest from the ICC on five counts of crimes against humanity, involving murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape,” he said, before citing previous statement by government officials that al-Bashir would be detained if he set foot in South Africa.

“The Gauteng High Court handed down an order prohibiting President Al-Bashir from leaving the country. And yet he left and all sorts of people apparently colluded to circumvent it. [This matter] has given South Africa the reputation as an unreliable country in the international community, as a country that does not honour its commitments”.

Freedom Front Plus Leader Peter Mulder went on to described the debacle as “bigger than the FIFA saga”, saying that “this diversion makes FIFA look like a picnic. No other executive act has exposed the ANC this much. We are going to pay the price for this in the years to come”.

Matters tuned heated later when Deputy Justice Minister, John Jeffery, referred to a DA MP as an idiot, leading to the party’s Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen, rising on a point of order.

“This House cannot have a member calling another an idiot. It’s now wonder this man is only a deputy minister”. Jeffery eventually withdrew the remark before proceedings adjourned.