This is how South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) described the fiasco of the past 48 hours in which the South African government decided to allow President al-Bashir of Sudan to escape the country despite a High Court order prohibiting his departure.
Meanwhile legal experts said the government had violated international law in various ways. Professor Bonita Meyersfeld from the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University said even allowing him into SA without arresting him was a violation. Letting him go was even worse.
The DA is in consultation with its own lawyers to find ways to keep the government and if office bearers accountability for the events.
President al-Bashir, arrived in South Africa on Saturday to attend the African Union (AU) Summit held this past weekend in Johannesburg. He left on his plane from the Waterkloof Air Force Base despite a high court order preventing him from doing so until a final decision was made on his arrest, as per a warrant from the International Criminal Court.
The DA says this flouting of the law “has set a disturbing precedent that the executive is allowed to simply ignore the rulings of a High Court of South Africa. The message we have sent out to the world – not least by our President and other leaders appearing all smiles and relaxed in the company of one of the world’s most wanted men – is that South Africa does not believe in justice for grave international crimes”.
Legal experts say by allowing al-Bashir to leave the country, the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, and the government itself are in contempt of court and should answer to the court.
Earlier news24 reported the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on International Relations and Cooperation, Siphosezwe Masango, described the court application by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre to force the government to arrest al-Bashir as an “opportunistic act”.
Masango warned that the committee might have to advise government to re-look its membership of the ICC.
“In fact, it would be best if the entire continent follows suit. Although SA holds international governance structures in high regard, it is crucial that their programmes are not open to sinister objectives and hidden agendas,” he said.