The High Court in Pretoria has ordered the government of President Jacob Zuma to explain how Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, left South Africa in violation of a court order.
Bashir was earlier on Sunday prevented by Judge Hans Fabricius from leaving Johannesburg where he had travelled for an African Union summit pending an arrest order.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on several charges including genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur region.
Later in the evening, court ordered Bashir’s arrest about three hours after he left the country from Waterkloof Air Force Base.
Bashir’s plane took off at 11:46am and is expected to touch down in Khartoum at about 6.30pm.
“President Bashir’s plane took off from Johannesburg and will arrive around 6:30 pm (1530 GMT),” State Minister for Information Yasir Yousef told AFP in Khartoum.
“Bashir will address the crowds that will gather to meet him.”
Court pressures Zuma
High court Judge, Dunstan Mlambo, accuses Zuma’s government of breaching the constitution by failing to arrest Bashir.
He gave government seven days to explain in details why it failed to arrest the Sudan president.
“The respondents are forth with compelled to take on reasonable steps to prepare to arrest President Bashir without a warrant and detain him pending a formal request for his surrender from the International Criminal Court [ICC],” Mlambo is quoted by foreign media as saying.
He added: “We would request an affidavit be filed, disclosing the time when he left, the port of entry or exit that he used to leave.”
According to International justice acting director, Human Rights Watch, Elise Keppler, when Bashir took off from South Africa on Sunday, he took with him the hopes of thousands of victims of grave crimes in Darfur who wish at last to see justice done.
“By allowing this shameful flight, the South African government has disregarded not only international legal obligations but its own courts.”
She said although this opportunity was missed, a clear message was sent to Bashir that he is not safe from arrest.
South Africa could face censure
South Africa could face censure in the United Nations Security Council for failing to take appropriate action to detain and hand over Sudan’s president to the ICC, according to reports.
Analysts say ICC could have the UN Security Council make similar demands as it happened when Kenya failed to arrest Bashir in 2011.
However, African Union vowed never to cooperate again with ICC following their forceful trial of Kenya president, Uhuru Kenyatta, while still serving.