Press Release: High Court sets aside decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique

The High Court in Johannesburg handed down a judgment today in which it set aside a decision taken by the former Minister of Justice, Mr Michael Masutha, to extradite Mr Manuel Chang to Mozambique. The Helen Suzman Foundation (“HSF”) appeared in the matter as amicus curiae.

In December 2018, Mr Chang was apprehended in South Africa following an arrest warrant for his alleged involvement, during his tenure as Mozambique’s Minister of Finance, in fraudulent activity relating to loans of USD 2 billion promised to Mozambique. South Africa received separate requests for the extradition and surrender of Mr Chang to the United States of America and Mozambique. On 21 May 2019, the former Minister of Justice took the decision to extradite Mr Chang to Mozambique. It is Mr Chang’s wish to be extradited to Mozambique.

The current Minister of Justice, Mr Ronald Lamola, and the Forum de Monitoria do Orcamento, a non-governmental organisation based in Mozambique, took the former Minister’s decision on review.

The HSF argued that, taking into account South Africa’s constitutional and international law obligations, it was unlawful, irrational and unconstitutional for the former Minister to take the decision to extradite Mr Chang to Mozambique. The Court agreed. It held that the former Minister did not have the power to extradite Mr Chang to Mozambique because he enjoyed immunity in Mozambique, at the time the decision was made. The Court stated that “it would make no sense to extradite a person to a place where he cannot be prosecuted.” The Court therefore set aside the Minister’s decision and remitted it to the current Minister for determination.

A copy of the judgment can be accessed here.