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Hidden Debts: South Africa Vows to Obey Court Ruling to Extradite Manuel Chang to USA

Hidden Debts: South Africa Vows to Obey Court Ruling to Extradite Manuel Chang to USA

South Africa has said it will abide by the Constitutional Court’s decision to extradite former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang, who has been detained in South Africa since 2018 at the request of Washington, to the United States.

In the notification sent to the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, to which Lusa had access, it is stated that the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, “will abide by the decision” of the court to extradite the former Mozambican governor to stand trial in the US in the so-called case of the hidden debts of US$2.7 billion secretly contracted in Mozambique.

“I am pleased to inform you that the third respondent [Justice Minister Ronald Lamola] will abide by the decision of the honourable Court above in counter-application,” reads the notification submitted to the Constitutional Court of South Africa in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The document consulted by Lusa is dated 23 March 2023.

Questioned by Lusa, the ministerial spokesman, Chris Piri, declined to confirm whether the South African government has already started the extradition of Mozambique’s former finance minister to the US.

According to the order from the Constitutional Court dated 24 May 2023, to which Lusa had access, the former Mozambican governor should be handed over and extradited to the United States of America to stand trial for alleged crimes in that country, as stated in the extradition request dated 28 January 2019.

In November 2021, the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg overturned Justice Minister Ronald Lamola’s decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique.

“Mr Manuel Chang should be handed over and extradited to the United States of America to be tried for his alleged crimes in the United States of America, as contained in the extradition request of 28 January 2019,” South African judge Margaret Victor concluded in the ruling consulted by Lusa.

On 7 June last year, South Africa’s Constitutional Court had already rejected a request from Maputo to appeal Chang’s extradition to the US. Last week, the South African Constitutional Court rejected, for the second time in 12 months, a new appeal by the Mozambican Attorney General’s Office against the extradition of the former minister.

The former finance minister is an accused and has already been pronounced by the Judicial Court of the city of Maputo, as part of an autonomous case on undeclared debts.

Manuel Chang, 63, was arrested on 29 December 2018 at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on his way to Dubai on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by the US on 27 December for his alleged involvement in the so-called hidden debts case.

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