Pretoria - Five ports of entry had not confirmed receipt of an interim order that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was not allowed to leave the country, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Monday.
This information was presented to three judges shortly before Netwerk24 journalist Erika Gibson tweeted that Al-Bashir's plane had departed from Waterkloof airport in Pretoria. It was not clear if he was on the plane.
But as far as the government is aware, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is still in South Africa, the High Court in Pretoria heard.
“To the best of our knowledge as the government, he is in the country,” William Mokhari, SC, for the government, told a full bench of the court, led by Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo.
Mokhari was speaking ahead of an application by the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) for the court to issue an order for the arrest by Al-Bashir. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
“I’m aware of the reports which appeared in Bloomberg that he’d left the country,” Mokhari continued.
Reports surprising - govt
“Those reports were surprising to us as government. There is no confirmation of his departure, so this court still has jurisdiction to hear this matter.”
Mokhari told the court that five ports of entry still had to confirm receipt of Judge Hans Fabricius’s interim order, handed down on Sunday, that Al-Bashir be prevented from leaving the country.
He arrived in the country on Saturday for a two-day African Union summit in Johannesburg that ends on Monday.
The order required the Department of Home Affairs director general to effect service of the order on all ports of entry.
Mokhari asked the court to adjourn until 14:00 to allow the judges to study affidavits filed by the ministers of home affairs and international relations.
Isabel Goodman, for the SALC, asked the court to deal with the matter urgently, given the fact that five ports of entry had not confirmed receipt of the interim order.
“We don’t wish to rush the bench. But we say that the matter remains urgent and there remains a very real risk that President Al-Bashir will leave.”
After court adjourned, rumours began circulating among journalists that Al-Bashir had left South Africa from Air Force Base Waterkloof.
Mlambo adjourned the matter for an hour.