Statement by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Marius Fransman, on the occasion of welcoming Prof. Cyril Karabus to South Africa, Cape Town International Airport, 17 May 2013
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media.
Thank you for joining us as we welcome home our compatriot, Prof. Cyril Karabus, whose prolonged ordeal in the United Arab Emirates is well documented.
We are elated to have Prof. Karabus back in Cape Town, South Africa, where his absence for almost eight months was felt mostly so by his close family as well as the broader family, i.e. the South African nation.
Before I go any further, I would like, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, to thank the following:
1. Prof. Karabus and members of his family for their full cooperation, understanding and patience during what has been a long, tedious and (at times) frustrating period;
2. The legal team that worked with Prof. Karabus as part of his defence team, for ensuring that justice is done and that Prof. Karabus returns home with a clean name after having been cleared of any wrongdoing by the relevant legal authorities in the UAE;
3. The Government of the UAE, in particular my counterpart in that country and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, both of whom were willing to engage with us on the concerns we had with regard to the delays encountered during Prof. Karabus' time in the UAE.
I must reiterate here a point we have made on previous occasions, that the South African Government respects the independence of the judiciary and its processes in the UAE, and that we are committed to maintaining our cordial diplomatic and trade relations with the UAE.
4. Civil society played an important role in highlighting the plight of Prof. Karabus, thereby putting a spot light on a process that appeared to deprive the Professor of his right to a fair trial. The medical fraternity, the media, business organisations and individuals all had a hand in agitating for the freedom that Prof. Karabus has come home to enjoy.
The South African government, through its diplomatic mission in the UAE and through efforts coordinated from Head Office, has been closely monitoring the case of Prof. Karabus, as is the practice when any of our citizens are distressed abroad.
The South African Government took all the necessary steps to ensure that Professor Karabus receives a fair and just trial and that such efforts take place at a high level.
I personally travelled to the UAE and met representatives of the government as well as Prof Karabus. Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane engaged her counterpart on the matter. Our Mission staff attended all court appearances, visited the Professor regularly and we maintained contact with the family. In short, the South African government went an extra mile on behalf of its citizen.
Although it was not possible for South Africa to influence or interfere with the judicial process in another sovereign state, we ensured that our Government remains seized with the matter till it is concluded.
The South African Government persistently and successfully called on the Government of the UAE to expedite the matter and to bring it to finality. We rendered extensive consular assistance to Professor Karabus and his family.
We once again thank everyone who took interest in this matter.