FRANCISTOWN: The process of extraditing a Zimbabwean man suspected of being behind the murders of three people in and around Tutume village last month will commence as soon as possible, police have revealed.
According to a press release from Botswana Police Service (BPS), the 32-year-old suspect was arrested in Plumtree, Zimbabwe on Monday with the help of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP). He is wanted in Botswana for the alleged murder of a 15-year-old boy in Magapatona ward in Tutume.
The suspect is also wanted in Botswana for allegedly killing a 73-year-old man from Nshakazhogwe village on January 11. Lastly, BPS implicates him for another murder of a 73-year-old woman of Thini ward in Tutume, allegedly murdered on January 24. Police say the suspect goes by many names such as Vicet Dube, Tapiwa, Bheki Masuku, Alias Sitlhe, and Bhuki.
Senior Superintendent Near Bagali told Mmegi on Wednesday that he cannot tell with certainty when the suspect will be extradited to Botswana since he was arrested on Monday. However, Bagali said that the process to extradite the suspect will start in earnest very soon adding: “Botswana and Zimbabwe do not have any problems of extraditing people suspected of having committed crimes between the two sisterly countries. We are now in contact with our counterparts from Zimbabwe to extradite the suspect.”
In March last year, an extradition treaty of criminal suspects between Zimbabwe and Botswana came into force after Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe gazetted the text. The treaty between Botswana and Zimbabwe is unlike that of other neighbours, South Africa and Namibia which do not extradite murder suspects for fear of suspects coming to face the death penalty. Under the treaty between Botswana and Zimbabwe, each country commits to extraditing to the other those found within their borders and wanted across borders for trial on criminal charges or to serve their sentence if they had already been tried and convicted.
This comes as the two countries strengthened bilateral relations following President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Botswana counterpart, President Mokgweetsi Masisi's meeting in Victoria Falls where they superintended the signing of five additional Memoranda of Understanding (MoU). The MoU cemented fraternal relations on a wide range of socio-economic issues.
This took to 25, the MoUs that the two countries have signed since the first session of the Bi-National Commission in February 2019, with President Mnangagwa reckoning that there had never been a time in the past 42 years that Zimbabwe and Botswana's relations had been better.
The extradition treaty between the two countries was entered into on February 28, 2019, and came into effect after Kazembe gazetted it through a Statutory Instrument. Under the treaty, extraditable offences are those that are punishable under the laws of both countries by imprisonment, other deprivation of liberty for a minimum period of at least one year, or by a more severe penalty.