The South African government has agreed that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will be arrested if he sets foot in South Africa.
This comes after the International Criminal Court in March issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest for alleged war crimes during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The DA was in the Johannesburg High Court on Friday for an application to force the government to commit to Putin’s arrest – should he ever come to South Africa.
Putin was expected to attend the Brics summit in South Africa next month, which created a dilemma for the government. However, the presidency announced on Thursday that it had been decided that Putin would not attend the summit in person.
The Department of Justice will pay the costs for the court application.
“Thanks to the DA’s sustained political and legal pressure to ensure the fulfillment of our country’s international obligations, the government has formally started the process to impeach Pres. To arrest Putin if he were to set foot here,” says John Steenhuisen, leader of the DA.
“Despite pres. Despite Cyril Ramaphosa’s best efforts to shield Putin from accountability for his alleged war crimes – including through his absurd claim that the South African Constitution somehow prohibited him from complying with the Criminal Court’s order – it is now clear that the DA’s commitment to justice and the rule of law is fully justified.
“The Department of Justice’s request that (adv. Shamila) Batohi (national director of public prosecutions) issue a warrant for Putin’s arrest is directly contradicted by Ramaphosa.”
RNews reported earlier that Putin has decided not to attend the upcoming Brics summit in Johannesburg, because he does not want to “jeopardize” the important issues that will be discussed, a high-ranking South African diplomat said on Thursday.
Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s Brics ambassador, said a “joint decision” had been made that Putin would rather join the discussions online.
“Pres. Putin understands the dilemma facing South Africa. He doesn’t want to jeopardize the summit. He does not want to create problems for South Africa,” said Sooklal during a media conference in Johannesburg.