Justice minister Ronald Lamola plans to apply to overturn his predecessor’s decision to send an arrested former Mozambican finance minister back home, according to documents seen on Saturday.
Manuel Chang has been held in South Africa since December at the request of US authorities over alleged involvement in $2-billion of fraudulent loans to Mozambique state firms.
In May, South Africa said it would send Chang back to Mozambique, which had requested his extradition, rather than agree to a competing US extradition claim.
But Lamola, who was appointed justice minister in May, moved to reverse the decision, which he described in court papers as “irrational, and inconsistent with the constitution.”
Lamola added that sending Chang back to Mozambique was also against “domestic, regional and international treaties” signed by South Africa.
The charges against Chang relate to loans taken out by the Mozambique government when he was head of the treasury between 2005 and 2015.
The US in May expressed its anger over South Africa’s decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique.
Mozambique has accused Chang of taking kickbacks in a scam which creamed off hundreds of millions of dollars, but critics say he would never face justice in the country.
Court papers said South Africa had assumed that Chang’s immunity status in Mozambique had been dropped but that “that assumption was mistaken”.
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