Fresh allegations in al-Bashir scandal
Reports suggest leaders held a meeting before Omar al-Bashir’s visit to SA and agreed to protect him.
JOHANNESBURG - South African security cluster ministers are reported to have held a meeting in Cape Town, just five days before Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir landed in the country, to plan safe passage for him.
The Sunday Times newspaper says it has obtained information from a senior government source - with direct knowledge of the meeting - who says it was agreed that South Africa would protect al-Bashir by any means necessary.
The meeting was apparently attended by the minister in the presidency, international relations, defence, state security, police and the director general in President Jacob Zuma's office.
The Sunday Times reports Sudan's president was given the go ahead to fly to South Africa after the meeting and was promised maximum security.
It's reported his ambassador to South Africa approached Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in his current capacity as African Union chair, for confirmation that al-Bashir would be protected.
The newspaper reports Mugabe then consulted Zuma and AU commission chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to ensure that the Sudanese president is indeed protected.
The Zimbabwean president confirmed during a media briefing this week that Zuma had given an undertaking that South Africa would not apprehend al-Bashir as all delegates at the AU summit had been granted immunity.
WATCH: Former South Sudan VP tackles al-Bashir controversy.
CHARGES AGAINST AL-BASHIR
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.
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 ICC, where he faces several charges including genocide.
LISTEN: SA's failure to arrest al-Bashir.
The Johannesburg Society of Advocate's chair, Advocate Dali Mpofu, said this decision could mark a tipping point.
"It's scary. Remember when the public protector's remedial action came, it was said that it wasn't a court order so we didn't have to obey it. Now here's a court order, what is the excuse now? That's the problem."
Mpofu argued that there's no way government couldn't know al-Bashir was leaving.
"We definitely cannot believe that a person could leave Sandton, drive to Waterkloof, get processed into an aeroplane with clearance; there is no plane that just leaves South Africa without clearance."
The advocate said there must now be a full investigation into exactly what happened.
The council added that government is able to disobey court orders and get away with it, it's the end of our constitutional democracy.