A convicted drug peddler Nomathemba Dlamini, who is wanted in Argentina for alleged drug trafficking was on Wednesday freed by a Gaborone High Court Judge, Bengbame Sechele. Dlamini- a South African national -was on December last year arrested and detained by the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) law enforcement officers at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
There is a red notice issued against her by INTERPOL. A highly placed security source explained that a red notice means that a person is highly wanted and should be immediately arrested when seen. Drama unfolded at the Gaborone High Court Wednesday morning after Dlamini was freed.
She was freed from prison and later escorted by the Immigration Officers who handed her over to the South African authorities because she had not been given days to stay in Botswana. There were fears that Dlamini has been declared an unwanted person by the Botswana Government as earlier on the day following Justice Bengbame Sechele’s ruling to free her, immigration officers immediately descended at the High Court to “collect” her.
But Friday Leburu from Baoleki Attorneys confirmed to the Botswana Guardian that she was in fact not declared an unwanted person but was being handed over to South Africa where she was headed before she was arrested. Dlamini was caught at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone last December by INTERPOL officers.
A battle between her lawyers and state lawyers on whether she should be extradited to Argentina or not then ensued. Government wanted to extradite her but her lawyers; Leburu and Nicholas Lekorwe argued and maintained that her arrest and detention were unlawful and devoid of any legal basis.
Botswana has extradition treaties with only South Africa and Portugal, while the Extradition Act covers Commonwealth countries only. Argentina is not part of the Commonwealth states and Dlamini’s attorneys successfully argued that there are no reciprocal arrangements between Botswana and Argentina to warrant their client’s extradition.
Prosecutors had initially planned to use the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances to argue their case. Both Botswana and Argentina are signatories to the convention. However on Wednesday when the case began, state attorneys conceded that they do not have a strong case hence the ruling by Sechele.
After the ruling security officers hid Dlamini away from the waiting photojournalists who wanted to take pictures. She was later sped away to prison in a white Ford Figo. A convicted drug peddler, Dlamini was travelling en route to South Africa in December when Interpol arrested her. She was travelling from India, via Kenya and Botswana to South Africa.
At the time of her arrest in Botswana, Dlamini had just been released from a Turkish prison where she was convicted for 11 years for drug trafficking. She however served only four years of the sentence. Reports indicate that Dlamini was prosecuted in Turkey in 2009 for possession of heroine seized from her body and digestive system and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment, only to be paroled after serving four years.
But prior to her being imprisoned she had allegedly committed a similar crime in Argentina in 2008 and fled the country. She has since denied the charge. “I have never committed any offence in Argentina,” she states in her affidavit before the court. Argentina has stringent drug laws with sentences of up to 16 years in prison.