South African banks, Nedbank and Absa, have vehemently criticized state evidence against one DIS agent code named “Butterfly” or Welheminah Maswabi in a case in which she is alleged to be responsible for P4.2 billion that went missing at the Bank of Botswana.
The case also implicates former President Ian Khama and former DIS director general Isaac kgosi. Khama has since disposed an affidavit in support of Maswabi rubbishing the State case and registering a ‘come get me’ attitude. Welheminah Maswabi was earlier last month arrested on three counts; financing terrorism (on account of claims that she transferred from an offshore account the sum of P29 million to former DIS spy Chief Isaac Kgosi, in January this year); possession of different passports and; falsifying her names to Lorato Hilton.
Upon her arrest, Maswabi made an application with the Gaborone High Court for bail which was denied without doubt, as the State found her a possible flight risk. The State brought laden evidence against the accused after the court was told that the accused had an enormous sum of P360 million in her different personal accounts. Maswabi- in her personal capacity was also allegedly accused as one of the signatories of Blue Files (PTY) Ltd.’s Royal Bank of Scotland, a bank account held in S.A facilitated the commission of an act of terrorism by transferring an amount of 950000. 00 American Dollars to Isaac Seabelo Kgosi, who earlier this year upon his arrest threatened to commit acts of terror against Botswana.
The State brought before courts bank statements that showed how the money was transferred from on offshore account to another. They further sought with the court to be given time to seek legal assistance for admissible evidence which will be used during trial.
This publication is in possession of affidavits from the alleged banks denying any knowledge or trace of the alleged bank accounts.
In their opposing affidavit, Nedbank states that “the opposing affidavit references accounts in the names of Blue Files (Pty) Ltd and Fire Flies (Pty) Ltd, are non-existent accounts. After conducting a search on our Nedbank systems, we have been unable to find any accounts in those names, nor any accounts with the mentioned account numbers.” Absa Bank also denied having any record of any account with designated account numbers nor account names. They further inquired that the document obtained by the State as evidence does not appear as Absa generated document.
One of the investigators engaged by Maswabi’s legal representatives, Johaan Minaar has also revealed in a report possessed by this publication that the emails used by the State as evidence against the accused are also fraudulent, based on the vast differences between the attached email and those which are relied upon by the High Court. The report alleged that the messages attached as evidence by the State appear to be fraudulent, as they could very easily have been produced by a word processor such as Microsoft Word, in order to provide veneer of authenticity to those emails which are relied on in the High Court.
The investigation company pointed out that unless the original electronic version of the email messages set out as annexures to the High Court application can be produced and authenticated, the annexures have no evidentiary values presented as they are presented to the relevant Tribunal in isolation as the original source data/document is not available for verification, further scrutiny and examination.
Upon establishing whether or not Royal Bank Scotland, Blue Files Inc. and Fire Flies were South African registered companies, the investigating team could not positively verify the entities. They however stated that they conducted searches on two public registries, namely the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in South Africa and Dun & Bradstreet (a similar registry in Botswana) and the search strings submitted to conduct such queries were as follows; Royal Bank, Blue File and Fire File.
Khama Labels claims against Maswabi as Nonsensical
Former President Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, being one of those implicated in the matter, also testified against the State labelling the allegations as false, fictitious and clearly nonsensical. In his written affidavit he denies ever instructing the Bank of Botswana whilst serving as the President of Botswana, to open any special unit accounts. He further denied any knowledge of instruction by Kgosi instructing Bank of Botswana to open any account.
“I expect in any banking environment or in any financial institution, instructions of the nature alleged by Hubona must necessarily be recorded for, among many reasons, audit evidence. It would therefore be very easy for the State to obtain evidence of such instruction and disclose it to the court.” Khama warned the Court in his affidavit-that in support of which application he is advised- that his affidavit will be used, the court should know that Mr. Jako Hubona’s conduct of fabricating evidence is actually his personality and character trait.
Hubona has allegedly according to Khama once fabricated evidence by adding extrinsic content to a witness’s sworn statement under a criminal case that was before the Regional Magistrate for the Gaborone Magisterial Region. Jako Hubona is the investigating officer at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in the matter. Maswabi will once again appear before court on the 27th of November 2019.
SA businessman responds – INK CJ
Meanwhile a South African businessman also implicated in the alleged scam Kgomotso Prince Mokgatlha, of Bassonia Estate in Johannesburg, is accused [in an affidavit filed by the state in the prosecution of intelligence operative, Welheminah Mphoeng Maswabi] of partnering with Kgosi in a company that allegedly received multi million dollars from Botswana.
Mokgatlha said he is a sole signatory of Kgetha Pty Ltd and that he has never met Kgosi or Maswabi. Prosecutors however argue in court papers that Kgosi became a signatory of Kgetha on the 12th of February 2019 with the help of a banker known as Mpule Konopi at Standard Bank. Prosecutors further say Kgetha’s account No. 200904299 was credited with $48 million on the 21st of February 2019. In September 2019 Directorate of Public Prosecution interviewed Mokgatlha in South Africa.
“They were clueless. First they gave me a wrong account number,” he says, arguing further that there is no how that amount of money could have been cleared to his account without the South African Reserve Bank knowing about it. “My account does not have CFC (Customer Foreign Currency) account. Legally all this will not suffice. I found your guys wanting.” He also took the matter into his hands. “I also went to inquire at Forex (Foreign Exchange department at Standard Bank) about the alleged money. They said I don’t have $48 million. There is nowhere Kgosi could have signed in my account.”
Just to be on the safe side, he will never set foot in Botswana even if his name could be cleared. “Your country is nothing but a headache. I have declared myself persona non grata. He finds the current leadership immature and vindictive. “I was born in 1966, but I think I am more mature than your country.” The state cites internal documents from Bank of Botswana that detail 60 transactions between 2008 and 2019 involving more than 12 offshore accounts.
The documents allegedly show that Khama and Kgosi funneled more than $400-million to countries including Indonesia, South Africa, Britain, Scotland, the United States and Hong Kong with Maswabi’s help. The court papers allege that in June 2008, Khama instructed Botswana’s central bank to open three secret accounts and deposited in excess of P908-million (US$90 million) in one, P700 000 000.00 ($70-million) in the second, and P592 million ($60 million) in the third. The Bank of Botswana Act does not permit a president to interfere with business of the reserve bank. (Ink Centre for Investigative Journalism)
Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC) has announced that its 3rd Francistown Marathon will be held on Saturday 20th April 2024 at Obed Itani Chilume Stadium in Francistown. The BTC Francistown Marathon is officially recognised by World Athletics and a Comrades Marathon Qualifier will offer race categories ranging from 42.2km, 21.1 km, 10km, 5km fun run, 5km peace run for children and has introduced a 5km and 10km categories for wheelchairs athletics.
BTC also used this opportunity to announce beneficiaries who received donations from proceeds made from the 2nd BTC Francistown Marathon that was held on April 23rd 203.Â BTC donated a play area, plastic chairs and wooden tables for pupils worth a total of thirty eight thousand, one hundred and three pula, fifty thebe each (P38, 103.50) to Monarch Primary School, Tatitown Primary School, Mahube Primary School and Gulubane Primary School. Ditladi and Boikhutso clinics each received a donation of benches, television sets and 10, 000 litre water tanks worth thirty seven thousan, eight hundred and ninety eight pula (P 37, 898.00). Additionally, BTC also donated seventy thousand pula (P70,000.00) to their marathon technical partner, Francistown Athletics Club (FAC) which will be used for daily operations as well as to purchase equipment for the club.
The BTC Francistown Marathon aligns seamlessly with BTC’s corporate social investment programme, administered through the BTC Foundation. This programme is a testament to BTC’s dedication to community development, focusing on key areas such as health promotion. The marathon, now in its third year, not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also channels all proceeds to carefully chosen charities as part of BTC’s commitment to impactful and sustainable projects.
Speaking at the launch, the BTC Managing Director Mr Anthony Masunga stated that the marathon underscores BTCâs commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that âthe annual event which has been in existence since 2016, having taken a break due to the covid and other logistical issues, is instrumental to the economic upliftment of the city of Francistownâ. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that âthe donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTCâs commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industriesâ.
He further stated that through this marathon, âwe demonstrate our steadfast commitment to having a good influence on our communities, this event is a manifestation of our dedication to promoting education and a healthier, more active societyâ. Â He concluded by stating that âBTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at largeâ he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that âhe is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathonâ. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the âCSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communitiesâ, he said.
The 3rd BTC Francistown Marathon is officially open for registrations and athletes may use the following platforms to register and pay; through Smega by dialling *173# and choosing opton 5, then choose Option 3 for the Francistown marathon, at any BTC store or by visiting the BTC website and clicking on the BTC Francistown Marathon and choosing the relevant options.
Thapelo Letsholo, Member of Parliament for Kanye North, delivered a moving speech at the United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day commemoration, praising President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption. Letsholo highlighted the importance of embracing digitalization in governance as a crucial step in curbing corrupt practices.
According to Letsholo, the implementation of digital systems in government services can significantly reduce direct interactions between citizens and officials, which often serve as fertile grounds for corruption. By minimizing these opportunities for illicit activities, the efficiency and transparency of public services can be enhanced. Letsholo pointed to Estonia’s success in digital governance as an example, where public services have become more transparent, accessible, and efficient.
The MP commended President Masisi’s commitment to digitalization and E-Governance, emphasizing that it aligns with global anti-corruption standards. He called for full support and active participation from all sectors to ensure the success of this initiative.
Letsholo also stressed the importance of improving detection methods and refining whistleblower laws to effectively combat corruption. He highlighted the unseen and unspoken facets of corruption as its lifelines, emphasizing the need for robust detection mechanisms and a system that encourages and protects whistleblowers.
Addressing the societal role in fighting corruption, Letsholo focused on the crucial role of everyday citizens and civil servants who often witness corrupt practices firsthand. He acknowledged the existing reluctance to report corruption due to the perceived risks of repercussions. To change this narrative, Letsholo advocated for creating an environment where staying silent is deemed more detrimental than speaking out. He called for a cultural shift where the potential benefits of exposing corruption outweigh the risks, ensuring that whistleblowers are protected and feel secure in coming forward.
Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a system that not only detects and reports corruption but also supports those who stand against it. He expressed hope that under President Masisi’s digitalization initiatives, the future of governance in Botswana will be characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability. Letsholo’s speech resonated with the sentiments of hope and determination that permeated the commemoration, emphasizing the need for unity in the fight against corruption.
In summary, Letsholo lauded President Masisi’s digitalization initiative in the fight against corruption, highlighting its potential to curb corrupt practices, enhance efficiency and transparency in public services, and align with global anti-corruption standards. He emphasized the importance of improving detection methods, refining whistleblower laws, and creating an environment where speaking out against corruption is encouraged and protected. Letsholo called for collective responsibility and action in creating a future characterized by integrity, transparency, and accountability in governance.
FaR Property Company (FPC) Limited, a property investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, has recently announced its exceptional financial results for the year 2023. The company’s property asset value has risen to P1.47 billion, up from P1.42 billion in the previous year.
FPC has a diverse portfolio of properties, including retail, commercial, industrial, and residential properties in Botswana, South Africa, and Zambia. The company owns a total of 186 properties, generating rental revenues from various sectors. In 2023, the company recorded rental revenues of P11 million from residential properties, P62 million from industrial properties, and P89 million from commercial properties. Overall, the company’s total revenues increased by 9% to P153 million, while profit before tax increased by 22% to P136 million, and operating profit increased by 11% to P139 million.
One notable achievement for FPC is the low vacancy rate across its properties, which stands at only 6%. This is particularly impressive considering the challenging trading environment. The company attributes this success to effective lease management and the leasing of previously vacant properties in South Africa. FPC’s management expressed satisfaction with the results, highlighting the resilience of the company in the face of ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The increase in profit before tax can be attributed to both an increase in income and effective control of operating expenses. FPC managed to achieve these results with fewer employees, demonstrating the company’s efficiency. The headline earnings per linked unit also saw an improvement, reaching 26.92 thebe, higher than the previous year.
Looking ahead, FPC remains confident in its competitiveness and growth prospects. The company possesses a substantial land bank, which it plans to develop strategically as opportunities arise. FPC aims for managed growth, focusing on consumer-driven developments and ensuring the presence of supportive tenants. By maintaining this approach, the company believes it can sustainably grow its property portfolio and remain competitive in the market.
In terms of the macroeconomic environment, FPC noted that inflation rates are decreasing towards the 3% to 6% range approved by the Bank of Botswana. This is positive news for the company, as it hopes for further decreases in interest rates. However, the fluctuating fuel prices, influenced by global events such as the war in Ukraine and oil output reductions by Russia and other Middle Eastern countries, continue to impact businesses, including some of FPC’s tenants.
FPC’s property portfolio includes notable assets such as a shopping mall in Francistown with Choppies Hyper as the anchor tenant, Borogo Mall located on the A33 main road near the Kazungula ferry crossing, and various industrial and commercial properties in Gaborone leased to Choppies, Senn Foods, and Clover Botswana. The company also owns a shopping mall in Mafikeng and Rustenburg in South Africa.
The majority of FPC’s properties, 85%, are located in Botswana, followed by 12% in South Africa and 3% in Zambia. With its strong financial performance, competitive position, and strategic land bank, FPC is well-positioned for continued growth and success in the property market.