- DPP head says he cannot say whether withdrawal of the charge has a bearing on the request to SA
- Charges of living beyond means and making a false declaration vis-a-vis a passport remain
Despite withdrawing the charge of financing terrorism against Welhelminah Maswabi, the state has retained the services of the head of the Private Prosecution Unit at AfriForum, Advocate Gerrie Nel, who was engaged with hopes of opening doors when the South African stonewalled Botswana’s request for mutual legal assistance.
But the filibustering continues because this week the head of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Stephen Tiroyakgosi, confirmed that no assistance had come from South Africa but said the contract with AfriForum was still extant. “South Africa has not yet responded, and yes we are still contracted to AfriForum,” Tiroyakgosi told The Botswana Gazette.
He proved unwilling to say why this was the case when the primary purpose for engaging Nel was unfulfilled and the charge was withdrawn. “I am not in a position to state whether that has really affected the entire case,” said the government’s leading prosecutor.
The two remaining counts against Maswabi are “living beyond means” which falls under the sole prerogative of the DCEC to investigate, and “making a false declaration vis-à-vis a passport” which falls under the mandate of the Botswana Police Service. It is not known how South Africa will assist in these.
The state engaged the Afrikaner rights group, AfriForum, to sue South Africa’s justice minister Ronald Lamola, international relations minister Naledi Pandor and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) over their government’s alleged failure to respond to a September 25, 2019 request for mutual legal assistance.
South Africa has stated the SADC Protocol on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters makes no provision for non-governmental entities to serve as intermediaries between states, whether solicited or not, and that the route of bilateral relations is the exclusive preserve of sovereign nations.
Botswana’s neighbour to the south has further warned that it will oppose AfriForum’s application as it awaits a re-submission of the application from Botswana.