PBS: Escaping Eritrea … [Read More...] about ካብ ውሽጢ ቤት ማእሰርታት ኤርትራ
BY NATASHA MARRIAN, 25 JUNE 2015, BUSINESS DAY (SOUTH AFRICA)
THE state on Thursday offered a deceptively simple and oblique explanation of how Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir left the country in violation of a court order. The affidavit came a day after the full bench of the High Court in Pretoria flayed the government for its breach of the law.
Even though immigration officials knew of the order granted on June 14, Mr Bashir’s passport was not presented to anyone at the Waterkloof airforce base from which the Sudanese aircraft departed on June 15. The relatively brief affidavit submitted on behalf of 12 respondents from the state including the ministers of justice, police, international relations and home affairs was signed by home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni and endorsed by national police commissioner Riah Phiyega and secretary for defence Samson Gulube.
Mr Apleni said verification of Mr Bashir’s passport details against the movement control system of the Department of Home Affairs showed that the Sudanese leader had entered the country but “there is no record of him leaving”. Mr Apleni said immigration officials at all 72 ports of entry and exit were informed of the court ruling that Mr Bashir not leave SA before the court sat again to decide whether or not he should be arrested under warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide and human rights violations.
The affidavit is in sharp contrast to the numerous political explanations offered by the governing African National Congress (ANC). Members had said SA had to choose between African solidarity and the ICC, whose prosecutions were problematic and Mr Bashir was a sitting head of state. The ANC believes the ICC was used by nonmembers to effect regime change in African, Middle Eastern and eastern European countries.
Mr Apleni said Mr Bashir’s passport was not among those shown to officials at Waterkloof airforce base before the aircraft, SUDAN01, took off. The two Sudanese representatives who proffered the passports were accompanied by a protocol officer from the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, which is the usual procedure. So the question is: was the protocol officer aware that Mr Bashir was on the jet — after his convoy was escorted to Waterkloof by VIP protection?
The Southern African Litigation Centre, which applied to the court for Mr Bashir’s arrest yesterday, said it would study the affidavit before deciding whether to institute contempt of court charges against the state. The centre’s Caroline James said it was disappointed over what the affidavit did not say. Under the heading “departure information gathered”, Mr Apleni said Mr Bashir’s aircraft was at Waterkloof for “security reasons and refuelling”.
The Sudanese delegation contacted the international relations and co-operation protocol officer about moving from the Sandton Convention Centre to Waterkloof. The protocol officer alerted the South African Police Service, which made the security arrangements. At the base, the Sudanese representatives and protocol officer handed over the passports. Mr Apleni said the immigration officials at Waterkloof were aware of the court order but did not elaborate on whether the protocol officer was as well.
There was no explanation for African Union (AU) chairman Robert Mugabe’s comments that President Jacob Zuma had assured the AU that Mr Bashir, who was attending an AU summit, would not be arrested. On Tuesday Judge Dunstan Mlambo, on behalf of a full bench of the High Court in Pretoria, questioned how Mr Bashir could travel from Sandton to Waterkloof “with his whole entourage” and the Sudanese aircraft take off without the government knowing.
He invited the national director of public prosecutions to consider if criminal proceedings were appropriate, given the government’s violation of the court order.