Friday, March 31, 2023

Suspect at the centre of Botswana, RSA judicial clash escapes from prison

Edwin Samotse, a Francistown man who is facing a single count of murder escaped from prison on Sunday morning. The accused failed to appear for mention before Francistown Principal Magistrate Njabuliso Siziba on Monday.

The prosecutor who was handling the case on Monday, Inspector Kelekang Tshepo from Kutlwano Police Station told court that he was briefed by the substantive prosecutor, Ronny Mmuso that the accused escaped Sunday morning. He however would not shed much light as to how the accused escaped as the case file was with the substantiated prosecutor.

“I do not have much information about the escape because the file is with the substantive prosecutor.

But I was briefed that he escaped on Sunday morning,” court heard.

However a source, who preferred anonymity at Francistown State Prison, told The Telegraph that Samotse escaped at Nyangabwe Hospital after he had been referred to the hospital on claiming that he was sick.

“On Sunday morning he pretended that he was sick and he was whisked to Nyangabwe Referral Hospital. He then escaped within the premises of the hospital. It is possible that he has escaped to South Africa like he did before,” he said.

Reached for comment, the Principal Public Relations Officer at Botswana Prison Services (BPS) Wamorena Ramolefhe also confirmed the escape to The Telegraph. He however said that he still is to get more detailed information about the escape.

“I can only confirm that he indeed escaped on Sunday morning but I still have to get detailed information about the escape,’ he said.

Samotse allegedly murdered his girlfriend on the 18th of March, 2011 in Francistown and then escaped into neighboring South Africa. He was then located in South Africa in July 2014 and extradited back into the country.  He was later granted bail by Francistown Chief Magistrate, Thebeitsile Mulalu on the 14th of August, 2014.

His bail was revoked last week after he allegedly attempted to escape back to South Africa through the Martin’s Drift Border.

His extradition by the Botswana government from South Africa could cause diplomatic tensions between the two countries, as South African authorities have condemned the manner in which he was extradited by Botswana government. Prior to his extradition, the Minister of Justice in South Africa had sought an assurance from Botswana government that once he is convicted he would not be given a death sentence.

It is alleged that Botswana government declined to give such an assurance and carried on with his extradition assisted by some officers in that country. The officers have since been suspended from duty.

Although Botswana and South Africa have an extradition treaty, South Africa strongly condemns the death penalty.

The Northern Gauteng High Court in South Africa has also ruled that Samotse’s extradition was unlawful.

The court also ruled that his rights were violated. The Human Rights activists and Legal Aid in South Africa had tendered an application before the court to force the Home Affairs ministry in South Africa to engage with Botswana government and get assurance that if the accused is convicted, he would not be sentenced to death. They also demanded investigations to be made on how the accused was deported and extradited.

The next mention will be on the 20th of November, 2014.


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