When the South African government facilitated the departure of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir last week it did so in flagrant defiance of a high court order that he not be allowed to leave the country.
It’s no exaggeration to say this has all the makings of a constitutional crisis.
Delivering judgment yesterday, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo made it clear that the government was not only in breach of its international obligations, but that it had been in clear breach of our own constitution and other laws.
In his judgment, delivered as part of a full bench of three concurring judges, he invited the prosecution services to consider charging the government as a result of its defiance of the court order.
The final paragraph of the decision reads as follows: “We stated earlier that the departure of President Bashir from this country before the finalisation of this application and in the full awareness of the explicit order of Sunday 14 June 2015, objectively viewed, demonstrates noncompliance with that order. For this reason we also find it prudent to invite the NDPP to consider whether criminal proceedings are appropriate.”

This is obviously far from the end of the matter.

Want to read for yourself how the court arrived at the conclusion that the government acted unlawfully – breaking South African law and international law – by helping President al-Bashir skip the country in defiance of a court order? You’ll find the full text of this important judgment below.

Southern Africa Litigation Centre v Minister Justice and Constitutional Development