A South African Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) is preparing to launch a court application to compel the South African government to extradite former President Lt Gen Ian Khama to Botswana.
The NGO, The Institute of Democracy and Transformation which has the support of South Africa’s opposition party, theAfrican Transformation Movement claims that Khama is being protected by “South African leadership and some influential business people.”
By “South African leadership and some influential people” the NGO is believed to be referring to President Cyril Ramaphosa and his sister in law Bridgette Motsepe.
South Africa’s media has also added credence to reports that Khama is being protected by the country’s political and business leadership. One media house stated that, “for both legal and political reasons, Pretoria has no intention of facilitating the task of its neighbour (Botswana).”
The High Court recently dismissed Khama’s application to have an arrest warrant against him issued against by regional magistrate Mareledi Dipate after the former President failed to turn up in court to answer charges laid against him in April. The charges include unlawful possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property and procuring the registration of a firearm by false pretence among others.
Politician and the leader of African Transformation Movement (ATM) Vuyo Zungula confirmed in an interview with Sunday Standard media reports that he was calling “for Khama to be handed over to the Botswana law enforcement agencies.”
He told Sunday Standard that; “ it is our stance that former President Khama must be held accountable for his actions. He said South Africa must respect the rule of law “even if the accused person is your brother-in-law or your close friend.”
According to Zungula; “South Africa is still trying to extradite Sheppard Bushiri and the Gupta brothers, but the government refuses let former Botswana president Ian Khama face the music in his country.”
He said “The rule of law must apply for all. Our laws reject that we harbour Khama here. Therefore, he must be sent back to Botswana.”
For his part, Institute of Democracy and Transformation’s chairperson, Imran Makama said, “ we are planning to take this matter to the court of law….We are busy engaging with different stakeholders to take the matter to court.” He said; “Because South Africa is a law-abiding country and I believe you are aware that South Africa has extradition treaty with Botswana.”
Makama further indicated that; “So we are in no means going to have a fugitive like Ian Khama in our country when the likes of Bushiri and Guptas’ warrant of arrests have been issued.”
He said; “So we are basically contradicting principles by habouring Ian Khama in our country who is wanted for crimes relating to arms and money laundering in Botswana…. We are planning to take the issue to our courts and also file an application his arrest so that wherever he is spotted he can be arrested and extradited to face his crimes in Botswana.”
According to Makama; “We are fully aware of those who wish to protect this fugitive.” He said it is public knowledge that Khama is protected by South African leadership and some influential business people.
“This is contravening the laws of this country. We are planning to expose these individuals. We are planning to utilize our courts to ensure that this is exposed. South African laws should be respected. The behaviour of our leaders in protecting Khama is really compromising our integrity and leaves a lot to be questioned.” He said they would mobilize institutions and individuals to ensure that Khama is extradited.
Responding to Sunday Standard queries, Khama Foundation Chief Executive Officer Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo said, “the Foundation is unaware, as is the Former President, of any such pronouncement by an NGO (or political Party), and if any stated that, whether they have the powers to effect such.”
He said Khama “will be well prepared if that were to happen.” Kaboeamodimo said, Khama “has publicly stated that he would welcome it (extradition) because it would give him and a wide and growing number of witnesses, the opportunity to expose in a foreign court, the fabrications, illegal actions, attempts to harm him etc. committed by those harassing him here.”
According to Kaboeamodimo, Khama “has long asked for an independent and neutral external inquiry into these matters,” adding that “This would form part of that if and when it occurs.”