AG hits back, accuses SA officials of hiding their unconstitutional acts
A case in which a Motswana man has been unlawfully and mysteriously extradited to Botswana by South African officials to face his murder charges, has stirred diplomatic tensions between the two countries, leaving behind a trail of blame game.
Last year, the South African Home Affairs department launched an investigation into circumstances that led to the deportation of Edwin Samotse to Botswana despite a decision by the top hierarchy not to deport him to Botswana. Samotse was charged with murder in Botswana and fled to South Africa where the South African Constitutional Court had ruled twice that foreign nationals cannot be extradited to their home countries if there is a danger that they'll face the death penalty.
WeekendPost has established that the brawl continues to this day and efforts to find common ground have not been easy as neither of the two countries is willing to accept the blame. Recently, South African officials wrote a letter to the Botswana government demanding a full explanation on the matter. They have been accusing the Botswana government of having a hand in the unlawful and mysterious deportation of Samotse.
The attorney General, Athaliah Molokomme told this publication that they have indeed received some correspondences from South Africa pertaining to the matter. “They have written us letters calling us to send him back and other issues which I cannot remember well. But what has to be understood is that we did what we had to do, arrest him when he set a foot here,” she said.
Molokomme argues that the South African officials know that they violated the law in sending Samotse to Botswana hence their illegitimate accusations.
Samotse had been in the custody of the South African authorities before the Botswana Government successfully sought his extradition to face murder charges.
"In the matter of Mohammed v President of South Africa and Minister of Home Affairs, both cases relating to Botswana nationals, the courts held that in the absence of such an assurance, the South African government and no official in the employ of government, may not lawfully extradite or deport individuals whose countries still impose the death penalty," the department said in a statement on Tuesday.
The North Gauteng High Court on 13 August 2014 issued a similar order in the Samotse matter.
However, officials from the Department of Home Affairs, it seems, knowingly or without prior knowledge of the Director-General and without any authority, secured the release of Samotse from the Polokwane Police Station and transported him to the Groblersbrug port of entry between South Africa and Botswana, where they handed him over to Botswana officials.
Molokomme argues that the South African officials are shifting the blame, “they know that they deported him illegally and fear the wrath of the law on their side. He was a fugitive and they also know that they have violated the international law hence their accusations and antics.
The Secretary of Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe said that he was not in a position to say whether they will act on the demands of the South African government to hand Samotse back or not. “We cannot say for now that we will deliver him back, mind you he is a criminal and we want him just as much as the South African officials,” he said.
Meanwhile, Samotse has fled again after being arrested in Botswana and his whereabouts are not known despite the two countries’ tussle. He fled from Nyangabwe Referral Hospital where he had gone for a check up. Makgonatsotlhe confirmed to us that Samotse is still at large. Sources say Samotse might have gone back to South Africa but the South African officials have not said anything about that to the Botswana government, according to Makgonatsotlhe.
The South African department of Home Affairs which suspended suspected officials last year pending investigations could not be reached for comment as their spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete said he was in long a meeting.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.