South Africa says arresting Putin is like declaring war on Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, talks with South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa during a plenary session at the Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019 (Valery Sharifulin, TASS News Agency Pool Photo via AP)
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SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s confidential affidavit, which has now been made public after the South Gauteng High Court ordered it be made public, has revealed that South Africa told the International Criminal Court that it had issues in executing the warrant of arrest for President Vladimir Putin and it cannot risk South Africa going into war with Russia.

The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday ordered the release of Ramaphosa’s confidential affidavit he filed in response to the DA’s application calling for Putin’s arrest if he arrived in South Africa for the BRICS Summit in August.

Ramaphosa told the court that the DA’s application was “completely incompetent and neither just nor equitable”.

In his affidavit, Ramaphosa said the DA acknowledged that the obligation to arrest and surrender Putin would only arise “if” he came to South Africa.

“No final decision has been taken that he will in fact come to South Africa.

“As things stand there is no cognisable legal cause that could ever ground a mandamus to arrest and surrender President Putin. Cabinet has determined that the BRICS Summit would be held in a manner that ensures that South Africa abides by its international and legal obligations,” read Ramaphosa’s affidavit.

He further stated that the “fundamental flaw” in the DA’s case was its assumptions that once the ICC issued its warrant of arrest for Putin, South Africa had the obligation to make a public announcement that it would arrest President Putin ”if“ he came to South Africa.

“The government knows its obligations. It sees no need to announce these publicly. South Africa is obliged to treat as confidential how it intends to process the warrant,” he said.

Further, Ramaphosa said it had discussions with the ICC, which were confidential.

However, he stated in his affidavit that Russia made it clear that arresting its sitting president would be a declaration of war.

“It would be inconsistent with our Constitution to risk engaging in war with Russia. I have constitutional obligations to protect the national sovereignty, peace and security of the Republic,” Ramaphosa stated.

The Presidency welcomed the release of the affidavit saying Ramaphosa was never opposed to making the affidavits public.

“It was only in compliance with the ICC directive that the Presidency sought to maintain confidentiality on the affidavit,” the Presidency said.