April 4 2010: After a number of postponements, a South African magistrate’s court will on April 6 make a ruling on whether former Botswana Housing Corporation Deputy Manager, Gaolekwe Rabana, should be extradited back to Botswana to stand trial for corruption.
The Botswana government had made an application for Rabana to be extradited back to Botswana. The South African magistrates’ court postponed judgment several times this year because the magistrate who was presiding over the case was unavailable.
Rabana fled Botswana to South Africa close to 10 years ago after government slapped him with corruption charges in connection with the awarding of tenders for construction of BHC houses in Block 5.
He was accused of accepting bribes from a construction company on condition that he awards them the tender for the construction of Block 5 houses, even though it was apparent that the said company did not qualify.
In return for the bribe, the state alleges that Rabana was given air tickets for himself and his family to travel to Europe and America, as well as money for accommodation in luxury hotels.
During the trial, state witnesses’ said that Rabana favoured the construction company and finally awarded them the tender without following proper tender procedures. They also said that high ranking officials who were supposed to be involved in the tendering process were intentionally excluded by, amongst others, Rabana.
During the case, when the state was left with only two more witnesses to call, Rabana fled to neighbouring South Africa.
One of the state witnesses who was due to submit evidence was a former BHC engineer who was based in Australia at the time. After travelling all the way to Gaborone for the trial, he was told to go back as Rabana had skipped the country.
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, which was spearheading the trial, would later set out to find Rabana. They later traced him to Johannesburg where he was reported to be residing with his family. But Rabana refused to return to Botswana to stand trial, and government later launched an application for his extradition.
Former Gaborone Chief Magistrate Leonard Sechele presided over the matter while current Director of Public Prosecution, Leatile Dambe, was prosecuting, with Abel Modimo defending.
Thato Dibeela of DPP is currently prosecuting. If he is extradited, Rabana will follow a number of Botswana nationals who were recently extradited back to Botswana to stand trial after fleeing to South Africa.
The others are Benson Keganne, who is currently on death row for the murder of a Phitshane woman, Gloria Mahowe. The others are two South Africans who were wanted in connection with the Sir Seretse Khama Airport armed robbery, which netted close to P5m.