Lamola opposes bid by Mozambican forum to stop corruption-accused former minister from leaving SA
Justice minister Ronald Lamola has opposed an application by a coalition of Mozambican civil society organisations seeking an urgent order to interdict former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang from leaving SA.
The application by Forum de Monitoria do Orcamento follows the decision by Lamola on Monday to extradite Chang to Mozambique, and not to the US, to face seven criminal charges including fraud by deception, money laundering and passive corruption.
Chang has been in prison since December 2018 after being arrested in SA at the request of the US, after it charged him for his alleged involvement in fraudulent loans worth billions to Mozambican state firms.
Both the US and Mozambique applied for Chang's extradition in early 2019.
After initially deciding to extradite Chang to Mozambique in May 2019, SA suspended its decision the next month.
This week, Lamola decided to extradite Chang to his home country after receiving representations that he had no immunity from prosecution.
The application by Forum de Monitoria do Orcamento, launched in the high court in Johannesburg, is in two parts.
Part A, an application to be heard on Friday, seeks to interdict Chang from leaving SA pending the finalisation of Part B of the application.
In Part B, the forum seeks the review and setting aside of the decision of Lamola to extradite Chang to Mozambique, and seeks that Chang be extradited to the US. The forum wants Chang to be prosecuted in the US because it does not believe that he will be prosecuted if he is extradited to Mozambique.
In its affidavit, the forum said it suspected Chang “will walk away with impunity” if he is extradited to Mozambique.
The justice minister, in an affidavit filed by director-general of the department of justice Doctor Mashabane, said this suspicion was not supported by any facts.
Mashaba said Chang has been indicted in Mozambique, is under a warrant of arrest issued by that country and is no longer immune from prosecution.
Mozambique also said there was no merit in the application by the forum.
In an affidavit, Busani Mabunda, an attorney of record for the government of Mozambique, said the allegation that no warrant of arrest has been issued against Chang by Mozambique — and therefore on this basis Chang would not stand trial — was not true.
“This is a fallacy because Mr Chang has already been indicted by the attorney-general (prosecution in Mozambique) to face trial in Mozambique for the offences mentioned in the indictment,” Mabunda said.
Mabunda said the forum ought to have brought an urgent review against Lamola's decision given that Chang had been in detention for nearly three years in a foreign country where he is not due to stand trial.
“It is therefore in the interests of justice and expedition that Mr Chang be extradited to Mozambique without further undue delay.”
Mabunda proposed the court adjudicate on Part B as an urgent application to be heard and disposed of during the second or third week of September.