The government was studying an International Criminal Court (ICC) order demanding reasons why Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country earlier this year, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
“The South African government is aware of the order made by the ICC on the 4th of September 2015 requesting submission from South Africa in relation to the case of President Al-Bashir,” Zuma said.
“We are currently studying the order. We will then make a determination as to the next course of action, if any. Our own courts are still considering the matter of President Al-Bashir’s last visit to South Africa in June, therefore the matter is sub judice.”
The court had given South Africa until October 4 to respond.
Zuma was addressing media, senior Cabinet ministers and a bevy of high commissioners and ambassadors from diplomatic missions in South Africa at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guest house in Pretoria.
Al-Bashir, wanted by the ICC to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur that left 300 000 dead, attended the African Union summit taking place in Johannesburg.
On June 14, after Al-Bashir had arrived in the country, High Court in Pretoria Judge Hans Fabricius granted an interim order preventing Al-Bashir from leaving the country pending the application for his arrest.
The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC) had brought an urgent application to compel South African authorities to arrest Al-Bashir.
It wanted the SA government to hand him over to the ICC for war crimes.
The ICC had called on South Africa to respect its obligations to co-operate with the court, with the President of the Assembly of States to the Rome Statute of the ICC, Sidiki Kaba, stating two arrest warrants issued by the ICC against Al-Bashir remained outstanding.
However, despite the court order, Al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country on June 15. On the same day, after Al-Bashir’s departure had been confirmed, the court ruled the failure to detain Al-Bashir was inconsistent with the Constitution, and he must be detained pending a formal request from the ICC.
The High Court in Pretoria would rule on Wednesday on whether to grant government leave to appeal its earlier ruling on Al-Bashir.
Zuma said South Africa would host the second summit on the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg in December.
“Questions have been asked or raised whether President Al-Bashir of Sudan will be invited to FOCAC,” Zuma said.
Zuma said it should be remembered that Sudan was a member of FOCAC, and as such, it expected the Sudanese government to participate in the summit in December.