Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Fugitive says he bribed SA magistrate because he had no faith in Botswana courts

Paul Mthabela who is wanted in Botswana for allegedly defrauding the Central Medical stores of millions of Pula told the Johannesburg Magistrate Court on Friday that he bribed a South African Magistrate to save him from being extradited to Botswana because he has no faith in Botswana courts.

Mthabela was testifying against suspended Midrand magistrate Johannes Kgomo. The South African magistrate allegedly solicited a bribe of R500 000 from Mthabela to act as middleman and secure a deal with the Randburg magistrate hearing Mthablea’s extradition matter.

During the Friday hearing, Mthabela also denied that he was guilty of the  CMS fraud.

He said he was, however, sure he would not get bail in Botswana and he could not be imprisoned awaiting trial.
“I’ve got a life to live here,” he said.

Kgomo was arrested after Mthabela allegedly handed him R150 000 in a sting operation arranged by the Hawks. Mthabela had earlier told the court he had reported Kgomo to the Hawks as “revenge” because his extradition was ordered despite his initial payment of R90 000.

He said Kgomo then wanted a further R150 000 to get the magistrate in the extradition matter to write a report to prevent Mthabela’s extradition.

Mthabela told the court of the delaying tactics he used to drag the extradition matter out. After he first approached Kgomo for help, he said that the magistrate advised him to ask for a Legal Aid lawyer, which would take time and thus delay the matter.

Kgomo’s defence advocate, Rathaga Ramawele, accused Mthabela of changing his testimony to suit himself because his testimonies in the trial and the statement he gave the police were contradictory on various points.

Among other things, Mthabela told the court that he’d pawned two vehicles to raise money for the bribe but initially he said he’d sold those vehicles, Ramawele said.

The trial was postponed to June.

Mthabela who is wanted in Botswana, was arrested in South Africa through intelligence information that was forwarded to the South African Police Service. Botswana is on a manhunt for the remaining four suspects who are all South African nationals.

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