WATCH | Cabinet to meet to discuss ICC decision on arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin

23 March 2023 - 08:17
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International relations minister Naledi Pandor has slammed the International Criminal Court's decision to issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“We had hoped that other forms of warrants would be issued by the ICC because there are many countries and leaders who have practised very serious abuses in situations of conflict but they remain unscathed in terms of the ICC,” said Pandor. 

The minister, who was speaking after a meeting with her Sri Lankan counterpart in Pretoria on Wednesday, said the ICC decision was serious and worrying. 

On Sunday presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said South Africa had noted the court’s decision and was aware of its legal obligation to comply in the wake of  the Brics summit in August. 

It is unclear whether Putin will be attending the summit, taking place in Johannesburg.   

This is not the first time the court has put pressure on South Africa to arrest a sitting head of state.

In 2015 South Africa did not comply with the ICC’s request to arrest former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir when he was in the country.   

Pandor said the cabinet was expected to discuss the matter. 

“Obviously this is a very serious decision by the ICC. We are a member state that has signed on to the ICC. Many countries which should sign on are not members of it. 

“This is a worrying aspect which we have raised previously. South Africa will have to look at existing provisions of our legislation and we will also have to have a discussion as cabinet as well as with our colleagues in the Russian Federation to determine the way forward.”  

A discussion between the two countries has not taken place yet but Pandor believes it is essential.  

In a Q&A session in parliament earlier this month Ramaphosa confirmed that the 15th Brics summit, chaired by South Africa, would take place from August 22 to 24.  

He also revealed that one of the countries' leaders would be attending the meeting. However, due to diplomatic discussions under way, he could not reveal who.  

He hinted to DA leader John Steenhuisen it would be Putin, saying: “We are still finalising those discussions at a diplomatic level. Have you polished up your Russian?”  

The IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa said: “It’s quite telling that you won’t tell us. It’s because you are in a diplomatic quadrium because of what is going on. I bet my last dollar it’s Russia.” 

South Africa took over from China as chair of Brics in January. 


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