South African officials are trying to persuade Russian dictator Vladimir Putin not to come to South Africa for a BRICS summit in August due to the International Criminal Court's warrant for his arrest, South Africa's Sunday Times reported on April 30.
The officials want Putin to attend the summit virtually, according to the Sunday Times.
According to government sources cited by the Sunday Times, a special commission established by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa concluded that, if Putin were to set foot in the country for the summit, they would be compelled to arrest him.
"We have no option not to arrest Putin," a government official told the Sunday Times. "If he comes here, we will be forced to detain him."
The ICC issued arrest warrants on March 17 for Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official overseeing the forced deportations of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.
The ICC says that there are "reasonable grounds to believe" Putin holds direct accountability for supervising the deportations and that he neglected to exert authority over Russian soldiers and civilians executing the crime across occupied Ukrainian regions from the onset of Russia's all-out war against Ukraine.
South Africa, as one of the 123 countries party to the Rome Statute, is obliged to execute arrest warrants issued by the ICC.
The office said the statement was a "communication error" that the African National Congress (ANC) made during a media briefing.
"The presidency wishes to clarify that South Africa remains a signatory (of the ICC)," Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement.
BRICS summits are held to promote further commercial, political, and cultural cooperation between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.