Monday, September 20, 2021

Death penalty stalls prisoner swaps between Botswana and South Africa

The long running standoff between Botswana and South Africa over the extradition of murder suspects from neighbouring countries has escalated to new heights with Pretoria refusing to extradite prisoners to Gaborone.

South African laws do not permit death penalty.

And the Constitution of that country expressly forbids extradition of a prisoner to a country where they might face death penalty.

Botswana Government has recently approached neighbouring countries notably, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa amongst others over exchange of prisoners doing time in the respective neighbouring countries.

South African Authorities have however declined to sign the agreement citing the years old conflict between herself and Botswana because of the death penalty.

The Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi this week told Parliament:“We have of late concluded dealings with our neighbouring countries for the transfer of their nationals serving jail time in our country to their respective place of origin and vice versa of our nationals for the overcrowding of our prison facilities.”

Kgathi added: “So far neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia have signed the deal with only South Africa remaining because of our death penalty.”

The Minister was answering a follow up question by the Member of Parliament for Nkange Edwin Batshu who had expressed concern  that the number of Zimbabweans languishing in local jails were alarming and called for the intervention of the neighbouring country for assistance.

Parliament was earlier on informed of a population of 3997 male and 144 female prisoners countrywide with Zimbabwe on the lead with a whopping 473 prisoners languishing in various facilities.

“57 are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 26 from South Africa, 19 from Zambia, 15 from Burundi, four from Namibia, four from Mozambique, four from Tanzania, three from Bangladesh, two from Lesotho, two from Somalia and one each from Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Malawi, Liberia and Philippines,” Kgathi revealed.

The MP for Nata/Gweta Polsen Majaga had also wanted to know the number of male and female prisoners held at the Botswana Prison facilities.

He also wanted to know the number of foreign prisoners detained and the countries they originate from.

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