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Man says he bribed SA magistrate because he had no faith in Botswana courts

Staff Writer
The man who accused a magistrate of taking a bribe was trying to dodge extradition to Botswana because he has no faith in that country's legal system.

Paul Mthabela, who is also a witness against Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, gave this explanation on Friday in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court, where he testified against suspended Midrand magistrate Johannes Kgomo.

Kgomo allegedly solicited a bribe of R500 000 from Mthabela to act as middleman and secure a deal with the Randburg magistrate hearing Mthablea's extradition matter.

Mthabela is wanted in Botswana for allegedly defrauding the government medical aid scheme of R17-million. Mthabela on Friday denied that he was guilty of the fraud.

He said he was, however, sure he would not get bail in Botswana and he could not be imprisoned awaiting trial.

“I've got a life to live here,” he said.

Kgomo was arrested after Mthabela allegedly handed him R150 000 in a sting operation arranged by the Hawks. Mthabela had earlier told the court he had reported Kgomo to the Hawks as “revenge” because his extradition

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was ordered despite his initial payment of R90 000.

He said Kgomo then wanted a further R150 000 to get the magistrate in the extradition matter to write a report to prevent Mthabela's extradition.

Mthabela told the court of the delaying tactics he used to drag the extradition matter out. After he first approached Kgomo for help, he said that the magistrate advised him to ask for a Legal Aid lawyer, which would take time and thus delay the matter.

Kgomo's defence advocate, Rathaga Ramawele, accused Mthabela of changing his testimony to suit himself because his testimony in the trial and the statement he gave the police were contradictory on various points.

Among other things, Mthabela told the court that he'd pawned two vehicles to raise money for the bribe but initially he said he'd sold those vehicles, Ramawele said.

The trial was postponed to June.



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