Possible Botswana execution for suspect

Elisha Molefe

Elisha Molefe

A young South African murder suspect faces possible execution in Botswana should his bid to prevent his extradition to the neighbouring country fail.

South African, Amos Molefi, 24, and his two co-accused, Ben Mogale, 24, and Kagiso Sebi, 25, both Botswana nationals, are wanted in Botswana to stand charges of murder and robbery.

The trio are accused of robbing and murdering a Botswana businesswoman, Gloria Mahowe of Lobatse, about six years ago.

It is alleged that they made off with the deceased's car which they used to rob another Botswana business, Mathite Cash Store. They allegedly robbed the store of about R233000 in cash, a mountain bike and a bunch of keys.

They allegedly fled the country and settled in a village outside Mafikeng, North West's capital. On March 10 2001, the South African Police Service arrested the trio at the request of their Botswana counterparts. They remain in custody, pending their extradition.

The Mafikeng magistrate's court yesterday gave the three accused 15 days to show cause why they should not be extradited to Botswana.

Esau Motswenyane, presiding in yesterday's case, said that President Thabo Mbeki had demanded that the case be resolved as speedily as possible.

Sources say this may be interpreted to mean that Mbeki will seek Botswana's assurance that that the South African national will not be executed even if found guilty.

South Africa abolished the death penalty when the country became a democracy.

In an extradition dossier from the Botswana national prosecuting authority, President Festus Mogae assured Mbeki that Molefi will not be executed. At worst, he could be given a life sentence if found guilty.

Botswana has maintained the death penalty by hanging for capital crimes, but only 34 people have been hanged since independence in 1966.

Incidentally, the last person to be executed in 2003 was Lehlohonolo Kobedi, a 34-year-old South African citizen convicted of murder.

His execution followed immediately after another South African convicted murder, Mariette Bosch, was also executed amid an international outcry from pro-life campaigners.