A PROMINENT lawyer has cautioned South Africans not to hold their breath on the immediate return of recaptured rapist and murderer Thabo Bester.
Godrich Gardee, who is also former EFF secretary-general Gardee, said the Tanzanian Police Field Force Unit (FFU) had a reputation for holding criminals accountable.
He told African Times that they might force Bester and his accomplices to first serve time in that country for violating its immigration laws before handing them over to their South African counterparts.
This follows the “unclear” stance police minister Bheki Cele has taken about the extradition of Bester, his accomplices Dr Nandipha Magudumana, and Mozambican national Zakaria Alberto.
During a press briefing held in Pretoria on Easter Day, Cele said the three fugitives were arrested after a surveillance operation by Tanzanian police.
He said law enforcement agencies working closely with South African authorities and Interpol arrested the trio in Arusha, 10km from the Kenyan border, after following them from a hotel in Dar es Salaam.
Yesterday, deputy national police commissioner Lieutenant Tebello Mosiliki led a team to Tanzania to negotiate the return of the fugitives.
However, Gardee, from Gardee Godrich Attorneys, believes that Bester and his accomplices were arrested for breaking immigration laws in Tanzania and would be expected to face justice there.
“They will serve the sentence of breaking the laws of Tanzania before they are extradited and deported. FFU does not play with criminals. (They face charges relating to) multiple passports and possession of undeclared forex,” said Gardee.
Cele, who confirmed to the media that the South African team had already landed in Tanzania, conceded that it might be difficult to bring the fugitives back immediately.
“They landed at Kilimanjaro and were in Arusha. They will be taking matters forward. It does look like things are going well. Them coming back does not really depend on the team. It also depends on the legal processes on the other side.
“The team is from South African Police, the National Prosecuting Authority, and Home Affairs and Correctional Service. It is a team we trust, led by the deputy South African national commissioner. It is a high-level team. We hope they will do (their) best to bring Bester best,” said Cele.
Cele said he expects the team to return today or tomorrow.
“We will be getting the report going forward. We hope they will do the best,” he said.
Meanwhile, police have arrested Magudumana’s father Zolile Sekeleni along with former G4S security guard Senohe Matsoara. The pair are currently appearing in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on charges of murder.
Bester, who escaped custody from the Mangaung Correctional Service Centre in the Free State a year ago after faking suicide, was finally traced in east Africa with Magudumana, his lover, and Alberto last week.
Two other alleged accomplices, Magudumana’s father Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni (65) and former G4S employee, Senate Ishmael Motsoara (39), have appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate Court today on charges of murder.
According to the charge sheet, the duo allegedly “unlawfully and intentionally” killed an “unknown adult male” in Bloemfontein on March 3 last year. They are believed to have assisted Bester to escape from prison.