Photo: The Presidency
President Jacob Zuma, right, with Sudanese President Al-Bashir, left (file photo).
DA leader Mmusi Maimane laid charges against the ministers of home affairs and international relations in Cape Town on Friday for letting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir slip out of South Africa in 2015 to avoid being handed to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The charges, also aimed at the Hawks, the heads of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the SA Police Service, and directors general of the departments concerned, are aimed at establishing whether there was criminal intent in letting Al-Bashir go, in spite of a court order preventing his departure.
In June 2015, while Al-Bashir was attending an African Union summit in Sandton, the Southern African Litigation Centre applied to the High Court in Pretoria to force the South African government to detain him and hand him to the International Criminal Court to face genocide charges.
This was in line with two arrest warrants issued against Al-Bashir by the court in connection with genocide claims, and South Africa’s ratification of the Rome Statute in which it became a party to the court.
The SALC applied for, and was granted, an order that he not be allowed to leave South Africa until the application was finalised.
‘Departure from human rights’
However, while the South African government was arguing that Al-Bashir had diplomatic immunity, the Sudanese president jetted back home from the Waterkloof Airforce Base.
The judges were furious and said the NPA should investigate the issue. However, the government has since told the ICC that it will pull out, and took the Pretoria judgment on appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA), but lost.
Speaking after opening the case at a police station in Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, Maimane slammed the South African government’s handling of the controversy.
“We hold the view that nobody can be able to assist a criminal to leave South Africa. It is a departure from human rights and a betrayal of Africans who lost their lives,” said Maimane.
“They cited in their document submitted to the SCA that it was a collective Cabinet decision, and we feel that we can’t sit back and let government let criminals escape.”
The DA is also opposed to South Africa leaving the ICC.
“Because in future, you may find that South Africans will need protection.”