Death row inmate, Benson Keganne, may not hang after all, regardless of the outcome of the Court of Appeal judgement.
The Director in the Office of the President, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe, has confirmed that the government of Botswana had given a guarantee that Keganne, who was two years ago sentenced to death for the murder of Gloria Mahowe, a Phitshane Molopo business woman, would not be executed even if the Court of Appeal judges uphold the High Court judgement.
Makgonatsotlhe’s comment follows after the issue of whether there was such a guarantee issued by the government of Botswana arose at the current sitting of the Court of Appeal after Keganne’s lawyer, Joar Salbany, had told the Court of Appeal judges that there was such a guarantee made by the government of Botswana and that he wanted it before he could proceed with the appeal.
Salbany also told the Court that he found it strange that Keganne was still locked up in death row when there was such a guarantee and that it was cruel to his client.
Directorate of Public Prosecution lawyer, Mosweu Ditodi, had denied any knowledge of the guarantee, adding that even if there was such a document, it was not the Court’s duty to deal with it, saying that the Court of Appeal’s duty was to deal with the appeal before it and the issue of clemency would be dealt with by the government later.
The judges, however, conceded that bearing in mind the seriousness of the matter, the document has to be brought before the Court if it exists.
They then postponed the case to January 2011 session.
The guarantee was demanded by the South African government before Keganne and two other South African citizens, who are currently serving 18-year-jail terms, were extradited to Botswana.
Initially, the three were apparently unlawfully arrested in South Africa after they had committed the crime in Botswana and the South African government protested that they be taken back to South Africa to allow for proper extradition process.
They were later extradited after the guarantee had been given.
In related cases of extradition of murder suspects from South Africa, Makgonatsotlhe said that they were still negotiating with the South African government to have two Batswana citizens wanted for murder of their girlfriends in Botswana extradited.
The two are Emmanuel Tsebe and Jerry Tlhale who skipped into South Africa after they had allegedly murdered their girlfriends.
In South Africa, they were arrested and the courts ordered that they could be extradited to Botswana but the South African government insisted that the Botswana government issue a guarantee that they would not be executed if the Courts found them guilty as charged.
The Botswana government apparently declined to do so and the two were released from custody, with Tsebe being granted resident status.
Asked how he thinks the issue regarding the two will be resolved, Makgonatsotlhe said, “I have hope that the issue will be resolved through the ongoing negotiations and consultations between the two countries.”
On whether he does not think the stalemate will encourage cross-border crime between the two countries, he said that the problem of cross border-crime is a world-wide thing.