AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit today announced that the Department of Justice and Correctional Services failed to oppose the mandamus application which is aimed at forcing this Department to facilitate mutual legal aid to the Botswana government in the Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe matter. The Department failed to file any formal documents on time. The application has subsequently been placed on the unopposed court roll for 7 July 2021.
Despite the inability or unwillingness to oppose the mandamus application, the Department still hasn’t supplied any formal feedback to the Botswana government. In spite of the previous enquiry where the Department focused on official protocol and policy, the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) process of informal communication continues. It is extremely unfamiliar that the respondent in a court application isn’t sending any formal communication regarding such an important matter and would fail to make contact with the applicant’s legal representatives of record. The direct contact with the Botswana government in these circumstances is unheard of and irregular.
The Private Prosecution Unit also announced that senior government officials (the identity of the parties is known to the Private Prosecution Unit) visited the banks with regards to this matter and that even though there are attempts to convince the Botswana government to withdraw the application, the Department and the NPA are both still failing to formally supply feedback to the Botswana government.
According to Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, it is worrying that the Department responsible for managing the courts failed to carefully obey the rules. “Ronald Lamola, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, admitted himself that his Department has an urgent need for renewal and that the Department’s role ought to be to make the criminal law system more accessible. Lamola’s conduct in this matter and the blatant disregard of court rules proves however that his Department itself has no respect for the legal system. It seems that Lamola would rather focus on protecting those people with political connections rather than trying to improve his Department.”
Nel furthermore pointed out that the Department didn’t waste any time in issuing warrants of arrest for Sheperd and Mary Bushiri who are accused of fraud and money laundering, as well as already starting with the extradition process. “This while the process for the extradition of the accused in two of the other international cases in which the Private Prosecution Unit is involved, is still dragging on. Ismael Gafaranga and Alex Sugira, the accused in the murder of Patrick Karegeya, the former Rwandan Head of Intelligence, have for example still not been extradited, after the murder was already committed in 2014. The same applies for the extradition of Grace Mugabe for the alleged assault of Gabriella Engels in 2017. It seems that Lamola simply wants to apply the principles of the criminal law system when it suits him and not in respect of people with political connections.”
Where certain ministers immediately described the Bushiri matter on social media as an embarrassment, these same ministers delivered no comment regarding the Botswana, Mugabe and Gafaranga embarrassments.
Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, observed that the tendency of the NPA, and in this case the Department of Justice, to prosecute selectively and/or to selectively apply the rules in respect of extradition and mutual legal aid, led to the establishment of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit. “Even though the unit is being swamped with complaints of ineptness and/or disinterestedness on the side of the police and the NPA, the failure in the above-mentioned cases was done on purpose and is characteristic of a political motive. Not everyone is equal before the law and AfriForum will not hesitate to bring forth unequal treatment before the law.”
The NPA issued warrants of arrest for two of the four alleged murderers of Col. Patrick Karegeya, the former Rwandan Head of Intelligence, in September 2019. The NPA at that stage indicated that it was in the process of applying for the extradition of Ismael Gafaranga and Alex Sugira.
This followed after Adv. Nel and the Private Prosecution Unit supported the Karegeya family in the informal inquest regarding the death of Karegeya. The Randburg Magistrate’s Court in April 2019 referred the case back to the NPA after a finding by the presiding officer that there is prima facie evidence of identifiable persons who were responsible for the death of Col. Karegeya.
The Private Prosecution Unit on 10 July 2020 wrote to Adv. Jacob Skosana, the Director-General (DG) of the Department of Justice, requesting that the DG confirm whether the extradition process has been set in motion, as well as the steps taken to ensure the execution of the extradition. AfriForum also requested copies of the “red notices” issued by Interpol.
The NPA informed AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit in April 2019 that it had applied to have Grace Mugabe extradited to South Africa. Grace Mugabe assaulted and seriously injured Gabriella Engels, a Johannesburg model, with an extension cord in 2017.
The NPA informed the Private Prosecution Unit on 2 June 2020 that its application for the extradition of the accused was referred to the Department of Justice for confirmation and disseminate to the Government of Zimbabwe in July 2019.
On 10 July 2020 Adv. Skosana was requested to explain the delay, as well as to reveal the steps that the Department of Justice has taken to bring about the extradition. No response has been received to this letter.