Africa-Press – South-Africa. While the national government has not taken a stance on what it would do if Russian President Vladimir Putin comes to South Africa, Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, says Putin will be arrested if he “sets foot in the Western Cape”.
In a statement on Thursday, Winde said while the national government is not sure what it will do with Putin if he does come to South Africa for the BRICS summit in August, the Western Cape will set its law enforcement officers on him.
Winde says he is prepared for whatever consequences will come from national government over his stance.
This comes after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin for war crimes committed during Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
The South African government has not said whether it will arrest Putin if he comes to the August summit. Instead, this week, ANC secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, said it was hypocritical to expect South Africa to arrest while “big powers” walk free.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking at a state visit by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Tuesday, said the “matter is under consideration and discussion”.
“I have often said when I am asked this question that when the matter is finalised, we will be able to tell everyone what our posture is going to be on all this,” he said.
However, in his statement, Winde said it seemed that the national government wants “to push ahead and host President Putin”.
“This is unacceptable and deplorable,” he said.
Winde said Putin had eroded the freedom of the Ukrainian people and Russian citizens who took a principled stand against his “brutal actions.”
He said the province is in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and by arresting Putin, it would be “taking a stand against the brute force unleashed on its civilians by Russia”.
In an interview with Newzroom Afrika on Thursday, Winde dug in his heels and said he was prepared to arrest Putin even if that was not the national government’s position. He said he was bothered that there is no “clarity” on what would happen should Putin come to South Africa.
“I am very happy to make it quite clear in this province, that if Vladimir Putin comes into this province later in the year, I will do whatever is necessary, and we will follow through and make sure that he is arrested and he faces his day in court with the ICC,” said Winde.
The premier said South Africa is a signatory of the ICC, has a duty as a signatory, and cannot ignore that duty. “I am saying in this province we will not ignore that duty, we will follow it through, and if there is a dispute between the national government and the province, well, I am happy to face that dispute,” said Winde, adding that he will “quite frankly do the right thing.”