Russian President Vladimir Putin will be arrested if he sets foot in South Africa’s Western Cape Province during an expected visit in August, according to the leader of the province.
“Putin has consistently and violently eroded the freedoms of the Ukrainian people and those in his own country who dare take a principled stand against his brutal actions.” Alan Winde, an opposition premier for the Democratic Alliance party (DA) which governs the province, said in a statement late Thursday.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant last month for Putin who is expected to attend the BRICS conference in Western Cape Province.
BRICS is a bloc of emerging economies that includes Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said earlier this week his governing African National Congress party (ANC) had resolved to pull out of the ICC. But his office immediately retracted those comments saying it was an error of communication and South Africa would remain a signatory to the Rome Statute.
“Even in the face of this arrest warrant, the national government seemingly intends to push ahead and host President Putin at a BRICS summit in South Africa, scheduled for later this year. This is unacceptable and deplorable,” said Winde.
He said if Putin comes to the Western Cape, the provincial government will have him arrested by its own Western Cape government-funded Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers.
“If the South African Police Service is not instructed to act, we will,” he said.
Winde said his province, which includes the tourist city of Cape Town, will not only fight for the fundamental rights and freedoms of South Africans but is also willing to show solidarity with Ukraine by taking a stand against the brute force unleashed on its civilians by Russia.
“I am highly disturbed by how the ANC national government is entirely focused on taking steps to ensure the freedom of Vladimir Putin, instead of focusing on securing freedoms for South Africans, many of whom are not free from fear, and have yet to achieve economic freedom, 29 years into our democracy,” he said.
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