EFF president Julius Malema has lambasted Botswana’s former president Ian Khama, saying the embattled former leader should return to his country.
Khama, escaped his country amid a warrant of arrest for corruption, money laundering and the illegal possession of firearms. Malema, speaking at a “Frank Dialogue” gathering in Sandton, revealed Khama’s exact location in South Africa.
As the contestation of ideas heats up at neighbouring Botswana, the former president uses social media to lambaste his former party, the BDP, and it’s government, but it appears his stay in South Africa may be short lived.
Malema, who was declared an illegal immigrant by Khama in 2012, has not minced his words on the controversial statesman.
“One day when I went to Lesotho, that Ian Khama came to greet and … you are in a foreign land and you don’t want to be bring attitude, I just co-operated, he hasn’t an issue to us … If indeed he is a fugitive he has to be taken back home, even when he was banning us from Botswana, I was like, what do we want from Botswana? I appreciate the information, it means that I must go and look for it now, the hunter becomes the hunted. I will make a follow-up with the minister of police so they can go and fetch him and take him back to Botswana. I know his address. He doesn’t live in Hyde Park, he lives at the Saxon Hotel,” Malema said.
Khama skipped his country fearing arrest, and taking residence at Joburg's most expensive hotel. The Saxon costs R27 000 a night, and is the preferred venue for foreign celebrities and foreign intelligence personnel. While it is still unknown who pays the bill for Khama’s stay, the discreet hotel is often a hive of activity of politicians from Botswana coming to “consult” with Khama.
Earlier this year Khama made a public appearance at the annual Moria pilgrimage in Limpopo during the Easter weekend, and his appearance sparked controversy, especially with President Cyril Ramaphosa being at the same church service. Ramaphosa has been viewed as protecting Khama from accountability due to their family links. Ramaphosa is married to Tshepo Motsepe, the older sister of Bridget Radebe, an ally of Khama’s.
A different controversy is playing out, where Khama is alleged to have exceeded his 90 days of stay in South Africa, as afforded by Immigrations. Khama’s current immigration status is unknown. African Transformation Movement leader Vuyo Zungula said that South Africa was not only harbouring a fugitive, the country was “potentially harbouring an illegal immigrant who hangs around with the president”.
“Legally, Khama’s days as a visitor expired long ago, so on what immigration rule is he here? He is not a refugee or an asylum seeker as he goes all around the world speaking. By virtue of his social media, his country knows exactly where he is. Which type of refugee carries a diplomatic passport? I think our immigration laws are being flouted here, and the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) must soon answer. A citizen's arrest is not impossible,” Zungula said.
The Star had sent questions to the Dirco about the stance of the South African government on Khama’s stay, but had received no response by the time of publication.
Although Khama has not been responding to The Star’s questions, In a statement released on Saturday Khama said he had decided not to attend the Sir Seretse Khama Day commemoration because he feared for his safety. He said he had received threats from the Botswana government and did not believe he would be safe if he returned to the country.
“I was informed by very reliable sources here in South Africa that there was a DIS-authorised plan to carry out a hit on me”on my way to the border, and if that plan was abandoned due to high risk, then to carry out something similar at the border when I arrived, and to stage a scuffle in which a fatal ‘accident’ would occur against my person,” Khama said.