Botswana’s most wanted car theft suspects have already spent over 12 months in South African cells, waiting to be extradited to Botswana to stand trail.
The five suspects comprise of 2 Batswana, Sefelane Shohniwa and Ferese Garsiyi, with two South Africans, Elias Mpofu and Jokoneya Chaka, as well as a Zimbabwean national, Joseph Machala.
Last week on Wednesday, they all appeared before Zeerust magistrate court in the North West Province, South Africa, for extradition hearings initiated by the Botswana government.
The five are accused of stealing at least three motor vehicles that they crossed with into South Africa where potential buyers had already been identified.
Thato Dibeela of the Directorate of Public Prosecution told the court during cross examination that the five were wanted in Botswana for allegedly committing motor vehicle thefts.
She assured the court that the suspects would not be hanged because the crime that they are linked to does not warrant the death penalty but a prison sentence.
The assurance came after the defense counsel, advocate Rabatho Kuapane of Mafikeng Bar, asked whether the accused would not be hanged upon their arrival after extradition.
After the hearings, Dibeela said, “The extradition process takes time but I am hopeful that our proposal will be considered and the suspects might be extradited to Botswana before the end of this year.”
She further said soon after their arrival in Botswana, the five suspects will be charged with motor vehicle theft.
The chief investigator of the case, Detective Superintendent Penyoitsile Nnawakoko of the Serious Crimes Squad, told The Sunday Standard that the suspects were part of criminal syndicates that specialise in motor vehicles thefts, especially Japanese cars.
He said the five suspects were arrested by the South African Police Service in Zeerust over a year ago, adding that since their arrest, the level of car thefts has gone down.