The Secretary for Defence in the Ministry of Justice and Security, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe, has admitted that the incident which saw Emmanuel Tsebe, a Botswana citizen wanted in connection with the murder of his girl friend in 2006 being released from South African prison is because Botswana did not give a guarantee requested by South Africa that he will not be executed if found guilty by Courts in Botswana.
He said this is cause concern and needs to be resolved as soon as possible.
Asked why the guarantee was not given as was requested by the South African government, Mokgonatsotlhe declined to give reasons, saying the issue was being handled and he did not think it would be appropriate to discuss it with the media.
”That issue is currently being discussed by the governments of the two countries and I do not think it will be appropriate to discuss it with the media”, he said.
Asked if he thinks the fears that if the issue is not addressed quickly it may lead to an increase in cross-border crime are true, Makgonatsotlhe admitted that they it is true and that it is why the problem needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.
”I think that such fears are credible and that is why I think the issue needs to be attended to quickly,” he said.
Makgonatshotlhe’s comment follows after the Public Relations Officer at the Attorney General Chambers, Abigail Hlabano, had confirmed that South African authorities had released Emmanuel Tsebe, a Botswana citizen suspected of having murdered his girl friend in Mahalapye in 2007 after which he fled to South Africa.
She said that they had been informed that Tsebe’s release from custody, where he was being held pending his extradition to Botswana as a court in that country had ordered, was on instructions from the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Reforms.
Asked if that could not have been because they had not given a guarantee demanded by the South African government that Tsebe would not be executed if found guilty of murder, Hlabano only confirmed that they had not given a guarantee on the matter but was not able to say why that was the case.
Sources in South Africa say that the lack of guarantee is the reason why the Minister had ordered that Tsebe be released.
The South Africans, who have long abolished the death sentence after their first democratic elections in 1994, always demand that such a guarantee be given before they extradite a murder suspect to a country which still employs the death sentence.
In the past, such a guarantee was made by prosecutors who were handling a particular matter. But on this matter, sources say that the South African authorities demanded that the guarantee be made by senior state authorities and that when no such guarantees were delivered, they freed the suspect.