'SA made correct decision to not arrest al-Bashir'

South Sudan's former VP Riek Machar agrees with the AU that al-Bashir was immune from arrest at the summit.

Former Vice President of South Sudan Riek Machar. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Sudan's former vice president Riek Machar has told Eyewitness News he believes South Africa made the right decision by allowing Omar al-Bashir to leave the country despite a court interdict barring his departure.

Al-Bashir took off from the Waterkloof Air Force base on Monday morning, just hours before the High Court in Pretoria ruled that he be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he's wanted on charges including war crimes and genocide.

Machar says if al-Bashir was arrested it would have had devastating effects on South Africa's relations with the Sudanese people.

The former vice president says he agrees with African Union delegates that suggest the Sudanese president had immunity from arrest during the AU summit.

"AU summits are always held in African countries and they are supposed to be attended by all heads of state and government; and Bashir was invited."

He says the consequences of such an arrest would be much harder to manage than al-Bashir's departure from the country.

"For him to be arrested here would just complicate relations between South Africa and Sudan. The action taken by the South African government was correct."

Machar has also called for a review of membership status to the ICC by African countries.

LISTEN: Machar on Sudan.


The Sudanese president was welcomed into South Africa to attend the AU summit in Sandton.

The ICC, to which South Africa's a signatory, had said no effort should be spared detaining him.

Al-Bashir is wanted by the ICC to face charges of genocide for more than 300,000 deaths in West Sudan.

This is his first visit to South Africa since the warrant for his arrest was issued.

Previously South Africa discouraged him from entering the country saying it would be obliged to arrest him.

However, the AU took a decision against the prosecution of sitting presidents and rallied against the ICC for unfairly targeting Africans.

WATCH: Former south Sudan VP tackles al-Bashir controversy.


Judge President Dunstan Mlambo gave the government one week to explain how and why al-Bashir left the country in direct contravention of a court order.

A full bench of judges in the court voiced their deep concern over government's failure to comply with a court order barring al-Bashir from leaving the country.

The court handed down an interim order on Sunday interdicting home affairs from allowing the Sudanese president to leave until an application for his arrest had been finalised.

The Southern African Litigation Centre had applied to have detained al-Bashir and handed over to the international criminal court, where he faces several charges including genocide.

"It's of concern to us that an order of this court that was issued and was to ensure the presence of al-Bashir in this country until the finalisation of these proceedings have not been complied with," said Mlambo.