South African authorities have released from custody another Botswana citizen who is wanted for murder in this country.
The suspect, Tlhale of Mahalapye, is alleged to have killed his girlfriend in 2007, and then skipped the country into South Africa’s Limpopo Province, where he was arrested after Botswana Police Service contacted their South African counterparts and informed them about their suspicion that Tlhale had murdered his girlfriend in Botswana.
Sources say that he was released from custody before his extradition hearing was held.
This is the second incident of this nature within a year.
Last year, another Botswana citizen, murder suspect Emmanuel Tsebe, who was suspected of having killed his girlfriend, was released from custody in South Africa after a Court had ruled that he could not be extradited to Botswana to stand trial for murder.
Just like Tlhale, he had, after allegedly murdering his girlfriend skipped into South Africa’s Limpopo Province, where he was arrested.
After the Court had ruled that he could be extradited, the South African government demanded to be given an assurance by the Botswana government that he would not be executed if Courts in Botswana found him guilty of murder and sentenced him to hang.
The Botswana government failed to do so and the South African authorities released Tsebe from jail and even granted him asylum. Botswana authorities are adamant that they will not give the assurance as it is tantamount to giving away its sovereignty.
Crime experts, on the other hand, are warning that this development is likely to kill the spirit of cross border crime fighting between the two countries, which have all along been working well together with excellent results.
They note, as an example, when two South African citizens were arrested in South Africa but were returned to Botswana after carrying out the biggest ever armed robbery in Botswana, which netted close to P5m in foreign currencies. Such cooperation, some crime experts warn, is likely to end and be replaced with mistrust between police organizations of the two countries.
”This problem needs to be solved urgently or else we will lose the fight against cross-border criminals,” warned one crime expert.
He went on to say this was also likely to create a crime heaven for criminals of either country.
In the past, Augustine Makgonatshotlhe of the Office of the President has said that they were discussions under way to resolve this problem, which he admitted was serious and needed urgent attention.
Attempts to get an update on the discussions were futile at the time of going to press.