Cape Town – DA leader John Steenhuisen says Russian President Vladimir Putin should be arrested if he comes to South Africa, adding that the country has a legal obligation to execute the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against him.
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.
The Kremlin has yet to decide on whether Putin will travel for the summit.
“I think that any responsible president would advise Putin given the ICC arrest warrant that he should perhaps not come.
“But if he does come, I think SA is obliged if it’s for the rule of law and (if you) govern according to the constitutional principles you would be obliged to execute that arrest warrant. If he is here we have the legal obligation. The principle of the rule of law means that the equality before the law and SA is oblige to execute that. We have not left the ICC. We’ve remained signatories. Putin must be arrested,” SABC quoted Steenhuisen as saying.
Last week, reports said that President Cyril Ramaphosa had appointed an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) to consider legal options regarding the ICC’s arrest warrant for Putin.
According to News24, Deputy President Paul Mashatile will chair the committee.
Meanwhile, 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.
Her remarks came after Premier Alan Winde said provincial police would arrest Putin if he sets foot in the Western Cape.
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“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
Picture: Getty Images
Compiled by Betha Madhomu