Manuel Chang extradition: Foundation tells court why it believes Lamola is correct to ask for review

2019-10-16 13:51
Manuel Chang, former finance minister of Mozambique. (Wikus de Wet, AFP)

Manuel Chang, former finance minister of Mozambique. (Wikus de Wet, AFP)

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South Africa is constitutionally obliged to ensure the effective prosecution of corruption even if the offence occurs outside of its borders, a lawyer representing the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has argued.

He was arguing in an application to compel Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to give effect to his predecessor's decision to extradite Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang to that country.

"Under the Constitution and relevant case law, South Africa has extraterritorial obligations that it must adhere to when deciding whether or not to extradite a person charged with corruption to a specific country," advocate Max Du Plessis SC argued in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"South Africa's commitment requires that when making a decision to extradite, the country to which the person charged with corruption will be extradited, has the necessary will and ability to prosecute the crime properly and successfully."

Chang faced extradition requests from both the US and Mozambique - where he enjoyed automatic immunity as a lawmaker - until it was lifted in January.

Former Minister of Justice Michael Masutha decided on May 21 to have Chang extradited to his home country, Mozambique - not the United States.

In his reasoning he cited that "the interest of justice will be best served by acceding to the request by the Republic of Mozambique".

READ | Manuel Chang to be extradited from SA to Mozambique, not US

Masutha's decision followed the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court's ruling on April 8 that Chang should be extradited to the US on fraud-related charges.

Chang is wanted by the US in connection with allegations of conspiracy to commit fraud and taking millions of dollars in bribes in a $2bn loan scandal, News24 previously reported.

Magistrate William Schutte found that there was "sufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution [in the US] on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, securities fraud and money laundering".

ALSO READ | Former Mozambican finance minister should be extradited to US on fraud charges - SA court

Chang - who was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport on December 29 while on his way to Dubai last year - is in the High Court seeking to compel Lamola to give effect to Masutha's decision.

However, in a counter-application, newly appointed Lamola asked that Masutha's decision be reviewed and set aside on the basis that it was taken contrary to the provisions of the Extradition Act.

The foundation submitted that Lamola's move, which halted the extradition, should be welcomed by the court.

"The new minister's decision to review his predecessor's decision ought to be welcomed.

"The former minister had obligations to ensure the effective investigation and prosecution of Chang for corruption and he was required to take the necessary steps to do so. The fact that this was not done renders the decision to extradite unlawful, irrational and unconstitutional," Du Plessis said.

The matter continues.

Read more on:    helen suzman foundation  |  ronald lamola  |  manuel chang  |  johannesburg  |  courts
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