Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Francistown murder suspect still at large

A Francistown man, Edwin Samotse who is currently facing a murder charge, remains a fugitive after breaking out of Francistown State Prison last month.

Samotse is charged with the murder of his girlfriend on the 18th of March, 2011 in Francistown.

Acting Police Spokesperson, Near Bagali said in an interview that Police have intensified efforts to arrest the fugitive. He said that they have communicated with Interpol to help with his arrest.

“We still have not arrested him but we are conducting searches locally and internationally. We have also engaged Interpol. We plead with the public to also assist us,” Bagali said.

After being charged with murder in 2011, Samotse initially fled to South Africa where he was later located in July 2014 and was extradited.

He then appeared before Francistown Chief Magistrate, Thebeitsile Mulalu where he was granted bail.

His bail was revoked in October 2014 after he allegedly attempted to escape back to South Africa through the Martin’s Drift Border gate.

South African authorities have since argued that his initial extradition by the Botswana government was unlawful.

Prior to his extradition, the South African government had sought Botswana’s assurance that once found guilty of murder, he would not be sentenced to death.

Although the two governments have an extradition treaty, South Africa is against the death penalty.
It is alleged that during his extradition, the Botswana government declined to assure the South African government that it would not hang him if he was convicted.

The Northern Gauteng High Court in South Africa has since ruled that Samotse’s extradition was unlawful. The court also ruled that his rights were violated.

Human Rights activists and Legal Aid in South Africa had tendered an application before the court to force South Africa’s Home Affairs ministry to engage with the Botswana government and get assurance that if the accused was convicted, he would not be sentenced to death. They also demanded investigations on how the accused was deported and extradited.

 A source within the law enforcement agencies said last week that the accused is likely to have escaped back to South Africa and it would be difficult for him to be extradited again.

“I believe that the accused is back in South Africa and it is going to be difficult to extradite him again, more so that the authorities in that country have condemned his initial extradition. They are probably going to protect him as much as possible,” said the source who asked not to be named.
Acting Police Spokesperson Bagali refused to be drawn into discussing the possibility of bringing Samotswe back to Botswana.

“I cannot comment on that one. What you should know is that we are currently searching for him,” he said.

Botswana has had diplomatic tensions with South Africa after sentencing some of the South African nationals to death for murder charges. These include South African white national, Mariette Bosch in 1999 and Lehlohonolo Benard Kobedi who was hanged in 2003.

Local Human Rights Organisations such as Ditshwanelo have since condemned Botswana for practicing the death penalty.

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