State lawyers told the court this morning that they have never said that they will arrest former President Ian Khama immediately but his warrant was arranged to begin the extradition process. The lawyers were responding to a point raised by Khama who gave reasons why his application to suspend his warrant of arrest should heard on urgency.
The lawyer, Sefelani Thapelo told the court that, “We never said we will arrest him immediately. It may take a few months.”
Thapelo further added that the only reason the state applied for a warrant against the former President was so start the extradition process which does not happen overnight. Thapelo also said if Khama was in Botswana there would be not need for the State to apply for a warrant of arrest as he could be arrested without it. “The applicant’s alleged strong belief that his arrest is imminent is ill- founded. The supporting affidavit by Merapelo Mokgosi is consistent with The Extradition (Designated Commonwealth Countries) Order Cap 09:03 as well as The Southern African Development Community Protocol on Extradition signed by the contracting parties on the October 3, 2002. The applicant has not even alleged that he intends to return to Botswana any time soon," he said.
He continued: "In any event upon return the applicant may still be arrested without a warrant and brought before court given that the offences he is charged with do not fall within Part II of the First schedule to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act Cap 08:02. It is therefore clear that the warrant of arrest is only required for the purposes of extraditing the applicant in terms of the relevant legislation and treaties''.
As such, the state lawyers believe Khama’s case is not urgent and should follow the queue as is any other case. However, in his defence, Khama’s lawyer Unoda Mack argued that the state should have specified in the initial application that the warrant was sought to facilitate Khama's extradition.
Mack also told the court that invfact the matter is urgent because as per the warrant, Khama can and will be arrested on sight. Khama’s lawyers further argued that because there is already a case in which they have applied to quash the charges against Khama. Mack added that if a warrant of arrest is enforced like the state wants, everything will be irretrievable should the court decide in favour of Khama in the end.
Khama also deposed an affidavit to support this claim saying, “I aver that should this warrant of arrest not be stayed/suspended or set aside and this court quashes the decision to prosecute me I would suffer irreparable harm that cannot be compensated in any form. If I am subjected to arrest, even for a few hours, and it turns out later that the decision of the 1st respondent is reviewed and set aside, and then I will not be able to recover from the damage done to my constitutional rights to dignity, reputation, and personal freedom. I aver that not even the highest and most punitive damages against the 1st respondent can possibly compensate and repair the harm I would have suffered.”
Khama was slapped with a warrant of arrest by the Regional Magistrate court two weeks ago. According to a warrant of arrest issued by Acting Regional Magistrate Mareledi Dipate, Khama is to be apprehended on sight and brought before the Broadhurst Magistrate Court. According to the State, there are reasonable grounds of suspicion against Khama that he did on or about March 3, 2016 commit the crime of unlawful possession of firearms contrary to section 9(1) of the Arms and Ammunition's Act and other offences as detailed in the charge sheet.
Other charges include procuring the registration of a firearm by false pretense, aiding and abetting unlawful possession of a firearm and ownership of a firearm not registered in accordance with the Arms and Ammunition Act of 2018. Khama is to be arrested and answer to the said charges and be further dealt with according to the law. Judgement in the matter has been set for this Friday. The case is before Gaborone High court judge a Godfrey Radijeng.