Friday, July 3, 2020

Judgment reserved in death row inmate appeal

Benson Keganne, the death row inmate whose arrest 10 years ago, together with two other accused persons, resulted in a diplomatic row between Botswana and South Africa, will know at the end of the current Court of Appeal session whether or not he will hang.

After they had murdered Gloria Mahowe, Keganne with two other inmates currently serving 18 years each, escaped into South Africa. Botswana authorities then followed them into South Africa and arrested them for the murder.

South Africans protested over the arrest, saying it was illegal and demanded that they be taken back to South Africa so that proper extradition processes were followed.
Botswana obliged and took them back to South Africa.

Botswana won their extradition battle in court but the South Africans put a condition that the suspects be extradited back to Botswana on assurance that they would not be sentenced to death even if found guilty.

It is believed that the Botswana government accepted the condition.

On Monday, Unoda Mack asked the Court of Appeal judges to set aside a death sentence passed against his client, Keganne, and replace it with a lesser sentence.

In his submissions, Mack said that the judge at the High court had, when sentencing Keganne to death, failed to properly deal with the issue of extenuating circumstances in accordance with set principles.

He also submitted that the judge had erred and misdirected himself in that he had failed to find that Keganne was, at the time of the incident, intoxicated with drugs and alcohol. Also that the judge had erred in failing to appreciate and find that there was no premeditation in committing the offence.

Mack further said that the judge had failed to take into account that Keganne was fairly young (just like his co accused) at the time of commission of the offence that such youthfulness or immaturity led or could have led to the commission of the offence.

The Directorate of Public Prosecution lawyer, Mosweu Ditodi, did not have much to say save to ask the Court to impose a sentence which they see fitting for the crime of murder that Keganne was found guilty of having committed.

The judges then reserved judgment till end of session.

Keganne’s co accused, both South African citizens, are currently serving 18 years for the crime.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of June 28 - 4 July, 2020.