I am often told I am boring because I believe in history and that history repeats. Actually the legal system is based on history, yes, the so called starre decisis rule where you see what judges said in the past, there is a ranking order and from there you will know what they will most probably say now. So you are able to make an informed guess (it is more than a guess to be honest). Lawyers are inherently boring people and unable to think outside the box, it is an extremely boring job repeating all the time. I praise the Lord they kicked me out ten years ago and gave me a life by doing so. Indeed, it was not worth it for both sides.
Now you will know I said the courts will not let the disaster known as the “Great Escape of the Sudanese President” go away. And although you can bet every penny you have left that the government will waste millions and years to delay and appeal the outcome, in the end, someone is going to be arrested for contempt of court and I still say the government lawyers may be in very deep trouble with the Law Societies about what happened in that court. Time will tell.
Typical of how far Mr Mandela’s dreams are shattered these days are the reports that the ruling party now desires South Africa to leave the Rome Statute stating, seriously, the Statute has lost focus and is changing so much they cannot live with it anymore. Now you have to be an idiot to believe that, simply, the Rome Statute, which requires signatures of it (South Africa is but one of many) to arrest anyone wanted by the International Criminal Courts to stand trial. This is then the Statute which started the troubles, the one on which the fellow should have been arrested and guess what, yep, not Apartheid for once although I am sure Apartheid will be blamed, obviously. Facts are, the Rome Statute was signed in 1998 and came into being in 2001. Yep, our own creation we wish to run away from now.
And now it seems this honourable treaty must be removed. We want to receive and honour criminals without undue interference from the West and civilised nations. The main point, on why the man is wanted, is yet to be acknowledged by his supporters. The reaction, in threatening a powerful country like South Africa with war by some Nigerian lawyers and others, are ridiculous. They cannot even conquer Boko Haram without running away (shame) and have to get South African “mercenary” help to show them how to conduct a simple counter insurgency war. It also shows to me the utter contempt Africans have for justice when it does not suit us to face facts and let me tell you, this is dangerous. This is a reason to stand back and say, enough or to leave.
Let us look in history what happened when countries decide to be rogue nations and leave Statutes to show the middle finger to the world. Yep, 14 October 1933 Nazi Germany left the League of Nations. The year before them, Japan left and Italy would do so soon after. Why is that? It was about unwillingness to implement international norms, disarmament and not invading foreign countries (China & Abyssinia) and from interfering in the Spanish Civil War. From all of this came the Second World War and we know the statistics, 66 million people died, communism across Europe and the start of the Cold War which was not cold most of the time. It started with the failure of the League of Nations and countries going rogue.
What will happen now? Well, let us say they remove themselves, it is very possible and they have the political power to do so. What will then happen is that internationally wanted men will visit our shores freely. They will do so without fear of arrest and we will be known and exposed as a country willing to host and honour such people. In fact, we would have showed the old middle finger to the West and other civilised countries.
How will they react? Probably not much except lines in the sand and condemnations. There will be no sanctions and as we know, sanctions are anyway useless and easily overcome. Yet they will remember this insult and when it comes to the institutions they control, the World Bank, the IMF and so forth, we will pay dearly. At some time in the future we will be seen as a banana republic, a rogue nation and a lawless one at that. All this for what? To protect a fellow that is not a South African, one who has by all accounts something to answer to and by the way, the Rome Statute overrides the normal privilege a sitting Head of State has against arrest. What can Sudan provide to us? What makes them important? I don’t get it. It is not even a great trading partner so it is about what? What is going on behind the scenes I wonder, it cannot be national pride, there is none. How on earth did things go this badly since 1998, it is preposterous and I say again, leave if you can. Nothing good will come from this and it will be the end of the road unless the rule of law returns.
Sadly, 96% of South Africans are against this decision, yet, for some reason, the old mates must be protected and the Nation’s honour dragged into the mud. What did we do to deserve this and more importantly, what is next?
Koos Kotze is a former member of the South African Police Force. He served between 1985 and 1991 primarily as a sergeant in the Pretoria Flying Squad. During his police years, he was awarded the South African Police Medal for Combating Terrorism twice besides lesser awards. After leaving the Police Force he obtained the law degrees B Iuris & LLB at the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa) and was a commercial law attorney for eight years. These days he is the owner of JKLS Africa and Associates, a specialist legal consultancy which specializes in reducing legal risk in sub Saharan Africa. He wrote several books on business, law, counter-terrorism and security issues. At times he is asked to participate on the Voice of America regarding legal forensic matters.