Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) onetime Queen, Wilhelminah ‘Butterfly’ Maswabi, is languishing in jail after she was denied bail by the Gaborone High Court. The State has advanced arguments that she is a high flight risk and her covert training as a DIS Operative puts her at an advantage to temper with evidence and scupper the case.
Maswabi is facing three criminal charges of financing terrorism, possession of unexplained property and false declaration for passports. On Financing Terrorism, this is a charge which on its own carries life imprisonment which the State prosecutors say could be a motivating factor for one not to stand trial and flee the jurisdiction which will delay the proceedings and evidence against her to be compromised.
The state, represented by Priscilla Israel, told the court that carrying different passports was a clear indication of abuse power of which she carried diplomatic passports which allowed her easy access. “If granted bail and before the money is frozen and or restrained there is high likelihood that she will temper with the State's evidence and endeavour to recover the syphoned money that we believe belongs the State,” Israel explained.
According to the State, “There is reasonable evidence that the applicant is likely to be convicted on all the charges filed against her.” Maswabi is accused of holding US390 million in her personal account and that she has at some point transferred P29 million to former DIS Director General, Isaac Kgosi. The transfer occurred shortly after Kgosi had made remarks that he will “topple this Government”, when he was arrested at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
During the bail hearing, the prosecution pleaded with the judge do a balancing exercise between the interest of the individuals and those of the prosecution and the public in general. “If the applicant is granted bail the state and the public in general will be prejudiced in that, the applicant is trained to counter, to infiltrate and intercept in dealing with computer related activities.” In the DPP view, “taking all the factors into consideration – that is the seriousness of the offences charged coupled with their sentences this is a high motivation for one to flee the course of justice.”
“Furthermore, the integrity of evidence and money syphoned from the State accounts, we humbly submit that the public interest outweighs the interest of an individual, therefore, we pray that the application before this honourable court is without merits and the public interest should be taken into consideration and the application be dismissed.” Offering emphasis on why ‘Butterfly’ is a high flight risk and may temper with evidence, the DPP said she is an employee of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services and she has been trained as a covert officer which includes among other things interception, hacking and any operations in the cyber space.
The DPP argued that it is in the interest of justice that Maswabi be remanded in custody pending the completion of the case. “Furthermore, it is believed that the applicant is co-conspirator in the syphoning of the Government funds, the matter which is still under investigation and it is believed that she has access to the offs h ore accounts which our primary investigations are believed to have been linked to the money syphoned from the Government funds.”
The DPP made claims that Maswabi “is believed to be a long-time girlfriend of a Mr Isaac Seabelo Kgosi who is a fugitive of justice, and his who his whereabouts are still unknown to the State and there is evidence that the Ap p licant knows where Mr Kgosi is as she has transferred money to him on several occasions.”
The 46-year-old former spy agent shuddered the court when the Directorate of Public Prosecution revealed that she has a lump sum of U$390 million in her personal account. She has travelled to 18 European countries, 17 African Countries, 5 Asian countries and 13 Indonesian countries. “Butterfly” has over 5 passports in her name of which 4 were returned because they were full.
Butterfly is also alleged to be the signatory to the accounts that were used to transfer money some of which was in the sum of P48 million. Israel revealed to the court that the USD 48 million that went into that account was transferred to four different accounts of which two of the accounts the applicant is a signatory to. The two companies are alleged to have 17 different accounts which have 10 billion pula. She further clarified that these are offshore accounts.
THE STATE IS BLUFFING – MASWABI
In their heads of submission, Mack emphasized that the State should provide evidence, if they have any against the accused. He dismissed that the courts cannot be dwelling on cases on suspicion instead of facts. “We demand to see a statement [affidavit] from Bank of Botswana to confirm that an account was created and to ensure that indeed they do exist. No signatures reflect on the documents they claim to have, so how do they tell the courts that the owner of the signatures is the accused,” Mack said.
Mack elaborated that they have no knowledge of which account holds the alleged U$2.9 million, neither do they know who the holder of the account is because the state has not brought any evidence before them. “There is no proof that the Applicant is a signatory to 17 bank accounts as suggested by the State and where bank accounts are. There is no proof that the Applicant was involved in any of the alleged transactions as depicted in Annexures E, D and X. In fact, the said documents are highly suspicious as they do not show their origin, author and they are not signed,” he said.
The applicant’s attorney also made the courts aware that despite her arrest there is no evidence from the South African immigration dealing with alleged pseudo passports. Mack said the second leg deals with the Application for bail in terms of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, in particular, Section 113 as read with Section 114 – The likelihood of the accused not standing trial; The accused interfering with investigations; or The proper administration of justice.
According to Mack if there is no likelihood of the accused failing to stand trial or interfering with investigation, then they must be admitted on bail. “The onus is on the State, if it opposes the granting of bail, to prove on a balance of probabilities that, either the accused is a flight risk or will interfere with investigations. Cogent evidence and not mere suspicion is required to convince the Court that one should not be released on bail,” he said.
Mack said in the present case, no evidence, has been provided by the State that the Applicant is actually a flight risk or that she will interfere with investigations. He admitted that at least one charge is serious, being the charge pertaining to Financing Terrorism. However he said what is critical at this stage is what evidence has been led to support the charges. He further observed that it is common cause that at this stage, the evidence placed before the Court in this regard would merely need to be prima facie and not necessarily conclusive.
“As regards the possible prejudice that the State would suffer if the Applicant is granted bail, it is submitted that none exists. If it does, it has not been set out. All that has been stated is that the Applicant will access money by means of cyber but no connection has been proved between the Applicant and any money or any bank account,” said Mack. He said Maswabi is a Motswana and the evidence led by the State does not suggest that she holds any foreign passport. “The evidence does not suggest that the Applicant is in possession of more than one valid passport.”
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. 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 BTC’s commitment to community upliftment and corporate social investment. He stated that “the 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 Francistown”. He congratulated all the beneficiaries for having been nominated to receive the donations, adding that “the donation of proceeds from the 2023 marathon aims to highlight BTC’s commitment and heart for Batswana and our continued impact in the different industries”.
He further stated that through this marathon, “we 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 society”. He concluded by stating that “BTC looks forward to another successful marathon that will leave a lasting positive influence on the greater Francistown community and the country at large” he said.
Giving welcome remarks, the Councillor for Donga, Honourable Morulaganyi Mothowabarwa stated that “he is ecstatic that BTC is collaborating with the City of Francistown on yet another installment of the Marathon”. He continued to offer his support to BTC to enable this marathon to continue over the coming years, stating that the “CSI element is a welcome development that helps empower our communities”, 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.