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'We're not investigating al-Bashir case at this stage'

Thuli Madonsela says it’s too early to say whether her office will be involved in the Omar al-Bashir debacle.

FILE: Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Despite calls from the official opposition for an investigation into the controversy around Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, says it's too early to say whether her office will be involved.

Al-Bashir made his departure from the Waterkloof Airforce Base last week, ahead of legal arguments in the High Court in Pretoria, over whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges including genocide.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) wants to know how the Sudanese president managed to leave the country despite a court order ordering him to remain in South Africa.

Several weekend reports suggest President Jacob Zuma and ministers carefully planned the exit of the North African leader from the country.

Madonsela says to her knowledge her office hasn't received any formal requests to investigate.

"By close of business yesterday we hadn't received the request yet and I don't know if we received it this morning."

She says even if she was to receive such a request it would still have to be determined whether her office can actually take on the case.

"Even if we have jurisdiction we are the most suitable institution to investigate the matter, and to look at the court process and see whether or not we would not be staring a parallel process."

The matter is expected back in court on Thursday when government must explain how al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country.

Madonsela says the controversy surrounding Sudanese president has not tarnished South Africa's image as a rule of law country.

The public protector says she believes South Africa is still recognised globally for the strength of its justice system.

"Investors are concerned about what it means for our adherence to the rule of law, even though the al-Bashir matter has happened, I don't think it means we've lost the cause when it comes to being the country that adheres to the rule of law."