Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Botswana/SA extradition dispute stalls murder case

Death row inmate Benson Keganne’s appeal has been postponed to the January session of the Court of Appeal. The postponement came after his lawyer Joar Salbany submitted that he needs the agreement that was reached between Botswana and South African, which forms part of Keganne’s defence.
Botswana made an undertaking that Keganne will not be execute before he extradited from South Africa to come and stand trial.

Salbany said the undertaking is central to Keganne’s appeal as it can impact on the outcome of the case.

He told the court that the undertaking was made after his client escaped to South Africa, and that they were later arrested unlawfully and snatched by security agents into Botswana. The three accused then contested the way they were arrested in South Africa and brought to Botswana saying that it was a violation of their constitutional rights. In the end they were taken to South Africa and properly extradited after Botswana made an undertaking that they will not be executed if found guilty.

Opposing the application, Directorate of Public Prosecution lawyer, Mosweu Ditodi, said Salbany’s application was inappropriate as the court’s duty was only to determine whether or not the death sentence handed down by the high court is appropriate.

“Even if such an agreement exists it has nothing to do with the case, as it is solely the responsibility of the executive arm of government. The court exists independently and the President cannot tell it what sentence to hand down,” said Ditodi.

He further argued that the issue of clemency will be dealt with at a later stage when the court had finished its duty.

For his part, Justice Stanley Moore said the document should be brought to court if it does exist. He then granted the postponement but stressed that the case should be expedited to ensure that it does not drag indefinitely. Two other accused persons in this matter, Kagiso Sebi and Amos Moloi, were each sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.

In another case, the appeal of two other death-row in mates, Michael Molefe and Brandson Sampson, has also been postponed to January.

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