Judge outlines court ruling on Al-Bashir
Pretoria High Court Judge Dunstan Mlambo has ruled that government violated a court order that the department of home affairs prevent Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir from leaving the country.
Describing how the court came to learn after its ruling that Al-Bashir be arrested and handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to be tried for human rights violations that he had already left the country‚ he said this was “in our view‚ a clear violation of the order“.
The South African government had previously warned the Sudanese leader that he would be arrested if he set foot on South African soil.
“For this reason‚ President Bashir declined South Africa’s invitation to attend the inauguration.”
Mlambo outlined how South Africa and 30 other African states had signed up for the ICC and that South Africa had passed an act of Parliament “domesticating the statute“.
He said the statute required that South Africa “co-operate fully with the court“.
Minister of Small Business Lindiwe Zulu yesterday told parliament that the decision for international court of justice and North Gauteng high court fugitive Sudanese president Omar al Bashir was a collective cabinet decision.
Also speaking on behalf of the ANC‚ deputy minister of justice John Jeffery said the government would strongly consider appealing the High Court judgment ordering al Bashir not to leave the country.
But as opposition MPs argued that South Africa also stands in defiance of that very court‚ thereby undermining the constitutional principle of the rule of law‚ the ANC claimed the issue was sub judice‚ with a different court possibly reaching a different conclusion.
MPs of the opposition‚ with the exception of the African People’s Convention‚ united to tell the government it had undermined the very rule of law it had swore to protect in helping al Bashir leave South Africa last week.
Deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli was accused of bias by the Inkatha Freedom Party for the way he chaired proceedings in what was a heated and very angry debate‚ led and requested by Democratic Alliance MP Stevens Mokgalapa.
“Let us‚ for a moment‚ think about what allowing Mr Al-Bashir to evade the law means to the 300‚000 people who were murdered and the two and a half million people who were displaced in Durfur‚” Mokgalapa said.
“This saga has dented our moral standing and now tarnished our previous title as champions of human rights. 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.”
His fellow DA MP James Selfe asked the government to stop referring to Al Bashir as “his excellency“.
“The only thing he is excellent at‚ is killing people‚” said Selfe‚ pointing out that Al Bashir stands accused of a leading role in the genocide of 300‚000 black Africans.
But deputy minister in the presidency Obed Bapela claimed it would have been folly to arrest Al Bashir.
“In this regard‚ and this is no reference to our courts‚ the demand that South Africa must arrest President Bashir while he is attending an AU Summit illustrates the contempt that some hold on Africa and the Africans.
“The demand is never made of the UN. The US Government‚ which also called on us to co-operate with the ICC‚ does not itself prevent Heads of State and Government from attending the UN General Assembly nor do they arrest them‚” Bapela said.
He claimed justice can only prevail in conditions of peace.
“The Sudanese people need their president in Khartoum‚ not in The Hague (seat of the international criminal court). If we arrest a head of state‚ it will be the death of the African Union‚” Bapela claimed.
Economic Freedom Fighters chief whip Floyd Shivambu said no matter what the criticism of the international criminal court is‚ the South African government had still defied a South African court order.
IFP MP Albert Mncwango said it was clear the law was held to be invalid the moment it clashed with Zuma’s wishes.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said what had been done in the name of South Africa was a serious crime‚ but ANC MPs refused to be swayed‚ and supported those claiming the government had acted correctly in full voice.
Meanwhile‚ a meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on international relations scheduled for today to discuss the Al Bashir issue has been postponed indefinitely.