ANC MP offends candidate with al-Bashir case questions

2016-08-11 21:08
Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh

Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh

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Cape Town – An ANC MP asked the woman who led the court bid to have Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrested in South Africa if her organisation was foreign-owned, during interviews on Thursday to select a new Public Protector.

“Who is funding you? And who is funding your funders? Are you foreign-owned?” Amos Masondo asked Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh.

She is executive director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) and one of the 14 candidates shortlisted to replace Public Protector Thuli Madonsela when her term ends in October.

Ramjathan-Keogh led the court application to have al-Bashir arrested for war crimes while he was attending an African Union summit in Johannesburg in June last year.

On June 15, the High Court in Pretoria ordered the government to arrest al-Bashir and said its failure to do so was unconstitutional. Despite this, he was allowed to leave the country.

Ramjathan-Keogh was visibly irritated by Masondo’s questions.

“I take offence. I take deep offence at this question Mr Masondo!” she said, her voice wavering.

She said the initial case had not cost them a cent, and the SALC had to seek funding to contest the government’s appeals. This money came from South African organisations.

Otherwise, the SALC received money from a variety of groups, including the Open Society Foundation and the US Department of State, which funded their work with sexual minorities.

Never withdraw

ACDP MP Steve Swart said some of the questions posed to Ramjathan-Keogh were offensive and should be withdrawn, including those about foreign funding.

Masondo refused.

“I will never ever withdraw, not in this meeting, and not anywhere else,” he said. 

Chairperson of the ad hoc committee, Makhosi Khoza, said the intention had not been to cause offence.

EFF Chief Whip Floyd Shivambu was more interested in her ideologies and whether she would pursue justice at the expense of peace. Deaths in Sudan could have doubled if they had succeeded in having al-Bashir arrested, he told her.

She said there was no tangible information that al-Bashir was essential to peace in Sudan. She was interested in justice, al-Bashir had been accused of “heinous crimes” and this was the reason for the SALC’s action.

“Who must seek justice? Who will speak for those individuals? It is organisations like us and others that can seek justice for those victims. Do they have to wait 50 to 60 years for justice?” she asked.

She said the SALC did not have any political affiliations.


Read more on:    public protector  |  cape town

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