Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir greets his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma (L) at the Palace in Khartoum February 1, 2015. REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

South Africa’s Chief Justice to meet Zuma over Sudanese President

Johannesburg, July 9, 2015 (Reuters/NAN) South Africa’s President and its Chief Justice are to meet over the state’s failure to detain Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in June.

The meeting is aimed at resolving an intensifying row between the government and the judiciary over the matter.
Government official said in Johannesburg on Thursday that the meeting had become imperative “because judges are biased against the state.’’

He said on condition of anonymity that the ruling ANC said some were driven to “create chaos” and were guilty of “judicial overreach.”
It named the Cape High Court and the high court in Pretoria that heard the Sudanese President, Omar Bashir’s case.

The official said the President in a statement to the judiciary reaffirmed the independence of the judiciary.

“The President wishes to reassert his own commitment and that of the executive to the independence of the judiciary and its role as the final arbiter in all disputes in society.’’

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The high court had ruled that the state was at fault, in letting Bashir leave the country, in spite of a global arrest warrant and a court order barring him from doing so.

Judges say that the government should respect the rulings of what was one of the country’s most respected institutions.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said in a media briefing that “Judges, like others, should be susceptible to constructive criticism.

He said at the same time that the criticism should be fair and in good faith.

“Importantly the criticism should be specific and clear. General gratuitous criticism is unacceptable.’’

Lex Mpati, Supreme Court of Appeal President, said nobody was above the law of the land.

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“If we’re going to disrespect court orders or we’re going to want to go out and do things which are not legal or lawful, then of course we are treading on dangerous grounds.’’

Mogoeng has called for a meeting with Zuma, who says he would see the chief justice after the BRICS nations’ summit in Ufa, Russia, that ends on Thursday.

Stephen Grootes, a columnist, noted that 21 years into South Africa’s democracy, it was facing a crisis that could render the society dysfunctional, in this turbulent and ever-changing space.

He said the Mogoeng’s intervention might one day be seen as one of the courageous acts that saved South Africa’s budding democracy.” (Reuters/NAN)

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