- Says he doesn’t rule out seeking asylum in SA
- SA not likely to cooperate on Khama extradition – claims
Former president Ian Khama believes he is not any closer to considering seeking political asylum in neighboring South Africa than he was when he first left Botswana late last year because the government continues to pursue prosecution against him.
Even so, he does not rule out the possibility of seeking political asylum in SA, but he says that will be subject to consultation with several key players, including authorities in SA and here in Botswana.
“No, I am not,” Khama said in an interview Tuesday evening about seeking asylum in SA. “Such a decision will depend on consultations I will open up with authorities here and other key players back home and abroad. However, my preference is to peruse other options in order to confront this criminal cartel.”
Sources say Khama is yet to make a physical appearance in court for his 14 charges of illegal possession of unlicensed firearms. State prosecutor Thabiso Olatotse told the court this week that it was considering extraditing Khama from SA.
According to the amended Extradition Act of 2022, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) can make a request for extradition within a timeline of not more than five days, but this is only applicable if the opposite country shares the same laws. Botswana and SA extradition laws involve different processes.
According to the Southern African Legal Information Institute, pursuit of formal extradition of suspects from South Africa by any state can take many months owing to the long executive and legal processes involved.
Furthermore, some within the government are said to be against the idea of pursuing Khama’s extradition. It is believed that the state has been advised that there is a good chance of the SA government refusing to cooperate in Khama’s extradition.
“This is likely to cause a diplomatic dispute between the two countries,” said one senior government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Already, the SA government is upset with the whole ‘Butterfly’ matter and the manner in which it was handled.”
The “Buttefly matter” is one in which government accused SA banking institutions of being involved in money laundering to allegedly help Khama and others to steal money from the Bank of Botswana.
The firearms case is set to return to court on 30 August 30.