Cape Town – President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly appointed an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) to consider legal options regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin who is likely to visit the country later this year.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant against Putin in March, meaning South Africa, due to host the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) bloc summit in August, would have to detain him on arrival.
The warrant against Putin stemmed from accusations that Russia unlawfully deported Ukrainian children.
According to News24, Deputy President Paul Mashatile will chair the committee.
Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said arresting Putin was not the only option for the South African government if he decided to attend the Brics summit in Cape Town, the report said.
“The work of the IMC is to consider the various options. You (media) have claimed there are no options, and you must only arrest. That is not correct. The IMC is there to consider the legal options and options in place. The IMC will go to Cabinet and make recommendations,” the report quoted Ntshavheni as saying during a post-cabinet briefing in Pretoria on Friday.
Ntshavheni said the cabinet met on Wednesday and reaffirmed South Africa’s participation in the ICC and confirmed that the country remained a signatory to the Rome Statute, Times Live reported.
As a member of the court in The Hague, the country was obliged to comply with the warrant.
“South Africa will continue to advocate for the strengthening of institutes of global governance and we continue to campaign for equal and consistent application of international law,” she said.
Her remarks came after Premier Alan Winde said provincial police would arrest Putin if he sets foot in the Western Cape.
“Even in the face of this arrest warrant, national government has the gall to invite President Putin to a Brics summit in South Africa, scheduled for later this year. This is unacceptable and deplorable.
“Putin has consistently and violently eroded the freedoms of the Ukrainian people and those in his own country who dare take a principled stand against his brutal actions. If the Russian leader sets foot in the Western Cape, we as the provincial government will have him arrested by Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers. If the SA Police Service is unable or unwilling to act, then we must,” said Winde.
But Ntshavheni said: “The Western Cape is part of South Africa. The rules that apply in the Western Cape are the rules of this country. The laws that apply in the Western Cape are the laws of this country and we are not running a federal government system, we are running a unitary government system.
@WesternCapeGov Premier Alan Winde will not arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin
“I do not know how @alanwinde will arrest President Putin because he will be protected by the presidential unit. He can dream”
Says Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni pic.twitter.com/5Eb1faB8WY
— News Live SA (@newslivesa) April 28, 2023
“I do not know how Premier Winde if President Putin is in the country and is protected by the presidential protection service, I do not know how Winde, who does not have even policing functions would then get through the presidential protection service.
“So premier Winde can dream about whatever, but what is important in the work of the IMC is to consider the various options.”
Compiled by Betha Madhomu