Ex­tra­di­tion of the Gup­tas is still up in the air

Cape Times - - NATION - DEN­NIS BLOEM Cope spokesper­son SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI [email protected]

elec­tions in the Na­tional As­sem­bly and pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures.

“While there are some ad­van­tages of such a sys­tem, there are also some weak­nesses, such as lack of ac­count­abil­ity of mem­bers of the rel­e­vant leg­is­la­tures to their voters, the alien­ation of voters from the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, and no pro­vi­sion is made for the voting pub­lic to vote for in­di­vid­ual mem­bers,” Lekota said.

He charged that this state of af­fairs was al­lowed de­spite the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vid­ing that “ev­ery adult cit­i­zen has a right to stand for pub­lic of­fice and, if elected, to hold of­fice”.

The draft bill, pub­lished on De­cem­ber 7, said that the Elec­toral Act should be amended to give ef­fect to the Con­sti­tu­tion.

It called on the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion Act to ac­com­mo­date in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates and reg­u­late re­lated mat­ters.

Yes­ter­day, Bloem said the pass­ing of the bill into law de­pended on Par­lia­ment’s work­load.

“The life­span of Par­lia­ment will be short­ened be­cause of the elec­tions. Par­lia­ment opens next month… it re­ally de­pends on the work­load,” he said when asked about the prospects of the bill be­ing passed.

“But we as Cope want to see it (in­de­pen­dents con­test­ing elec­tions) hap­pen in the com­ing elec­tions. We don’t want any de­lays,” Bloem added.

He took a swipe at Speaker Baleka Mbete for what he termed de­lay­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the bill to Par­lia­ment for con­sid­er­a­tion.

“The Speaker of Par­lia­ment must be blamed for this de­lay. It was tabled long ago but she used de­lay­ing tac­tics not to in­tro­duce it. We are very con­cerned,” Bloem said. “It is ur­gent that the bill be en­acted into law be­fore the elec­tions.”

Mbete’s spokesper­son, Moloto Mothapo, said he would have to look at the ge­n­e­sis of the bill, but he said the process fol­lowed in the for­mu­la­tion of laws in­cluded pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion and pro­cesses in­volv­ing the NCOP and the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

How­ever, Mothapo said Cope needed to an­swer why they thought a bill brought to Par­lia­ment for in­tro­duc­tion late last year should take precedence over the busi­ness of Par­lia­ment and be rushed. LAW en­force­ment agen­cies have not yet ex­tra­dited the Gup­tas to South Africa de­spite Par­lia­ment ap­prov­ing the Ex­tra­di­tion and Mu­tual Le­gal As­sis­tance Treaty with the United Arab Emi­rates.

But the Hawks said yes­ter­day the ex­tra­di­tion would not hap­pen un­til the in­ves­ti­ga­tions had been com­pleted.

The Na­tional As­sem­bly ap­proved the Ex­tra­di­tion and Mu­tual Le­gal As­sis­tance Treaty with the UAE late last year af­ter all par­ties unan­i­mously backed the treaty.

The Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity could not be reached for com­ment yes­ter­day.

But the Hawks said the in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the cases against the fam­ily had not been com­pleted.

Hawks spokesper­son Bri­gadier Hang­wani Mu­laudzi said they did not have a time frame as to when the ex­tra­di­tion process would be­gin, but the head of the unit, Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral God­frey Le­beya, has said he wanted all the in­ves­ti­ga­tions to be com­pleted.

Mu­laudzi said that when the cases were brought to court they must have all the el­e­ments of pros­e­cu­tion as they did not want to pros­e­cute on a piece­meal ba­sis.

The rule of spe­cial­ity, which is ap­plied in terms of in­ter­na­tional law, did not al­low the ex­tra­di­tion of a per­son for in­ves­ti­ga­tion pur­poses, Mu­laudzi said.

“The rule of spe­cial­ity, in terms of in­ter­na­tional law, says you can­not ex­tra­dite any per­son to in­ves­ti­gate.

“You ex­tra­dite to pros­e­cute,” said Mu­laudzi.

This would mean that for peo­ple to be ex­tra­dited the State must have all the ev­i­dence for pros­e­cu­tion. It can­not do piece­meal pros­e­cu­tions.

MPs late last year also asked Le­beya about the progress made in bring­ing the Gup­tas back to South Africa for pros­e­cu­tion.

Le­beya said there was progress in the mat­ter, but he did not give a time frame as to when these would be fi­nalised to haul the Gup­tas back to the coun­try.

Law en­force­ment agen­cies have been un­der pres­sure for sev­eral months to ex­tra­dite the Gup­tas af­ter it emerged they had left the coun­try for Dubai early last year.

The fam­ily mem­bers have been ac­cused of state cap­ture, but they have de­nied the al­le­ga­tions.

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa ap­pointed Shamila Ba­tohi as the new head of the NPA af­ter a panel rec­om­mended her.

This fol­lowed the de­ci­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court to ap­point the new head of pros­e­cu­tion af­ter a court chal­lenge to the ap­point­ment of Shaun Abrahams.

He was ac­cused of be­ing slow in deal­ing with cases of state cap­ture.

Ba­tohi will of­fi­cially be­gin her job next month, while the Con­sti­tu­tional Court has de­cried the in­sta­bil­ity in the NPA for years.

No sin­gle NPA boss has man­aged to fin­ish their full term.

MPs have been urg­ing the NPA to act swiftly and to be­gin the process of ex­tra­dit­ing the Gup­tas.

THE head of the Hawks, Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral God­frey Le­beya.

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