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P29 million ‘Butterfly’ in her own words…

Welheminah ‘utterfly’ Mpheong Maswabi  writes: “All the facts deposed to herein are, save as otherwise provided, within my personal knowledge, information and / belief and are true and correct in every respect.

Where I make legal submissions, I do so on the basis of legal advice I received from my attorneys, which I verify believe to be true and correct. I also make reference to what I have been told by my attorney Phatshimo Mphetolang, who has deposed to a confirmatory affidavit.
I am an adult female of full legal capacity, presently held at the Women’s Prison at the Village Gaborone, where I am remand prisoner, otherwise I am ordinarily resident in Gaborone, plot 60407, block 7 Gaborone where until my arrest and detention I lived.

I am employed by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services as a senior intelligence officer. I bring this application to seek the reliefs set out on the notice of motion. In particular, I beseech the court to rescind and set the Remand order issued on the 18th October 2019 by court a quo. The basis for the challenge stems from a violation of my sacrosanct constitutional right to legal representation.

On the 17th of October 2019 at around 1515 hours, I was in staff meeting at my work place when I was abruptly summoned out of the meeting by investigating officer who indicated that I am under arrest and that they had a warrant of my arrest which empowers them to take me away into custody. They immediately took away my personal belongings, in particular my hand bag which contained my mobile phone, house keys, car keys and my wallet that contains my bank cards and national identity cards.

At that point I requested to contact a family member and my attorneys and I was informed that I will get a chance to contact them after I have been charged. I was then ushered into a police into a driven at a high speed to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) in Gaborone. On our way there I insisted on talking to my lawyer and family member. Even upon arrival at the CID I reiterated my request to make contact with my attorney or any member of my family. I was vehemently denied the opportunity to do so. Instead, I was told that I am a difficult person and that they were forewarned about my difficult disposition. They didn’t say by who.

I was kept at the CID for questioning form the time we arrived until 2000hrs and the entire time I was grilled with unending questions by several officers among the being Mr Mashabile, Mr  Mabona, Mr Gaotingwe, Mr Hobona and Ms Seretse. Afterwards I was taken to Naledi Police Station where I was put in a holding cell overnight. Even at that point I requested to contact my lawyer or family member to no avail.

I was not surprised at the refusal by the Police because when I arrived at Naledi Police Station, the above officer who handed me over to the police officers were strictly instructed, in my presence and hearing, that I should not be assisted with anything. More specifically not to be given access to a phone or have any contact with anyone outside Police station.

 On the morning of the 18th October 2019, at around 0730hours, I was taken from Old Naledi Police Station by the investigating officer, I was taken to my work place where a search of my office was conducted as well as a my personal motor vehicle albeit without search warrant.
Afterwards, I was then immediately whisked away to Broadhurst Magistrate Court. Even on my way to court and at court, I made the request to talk to my lawyer, It was refused. When we arrived inside the court room that is when I was serve with a copy of charge sheet dated the 17th October 2019. Immediately afterwards, court was in session and the proceedings began. The magistrate was ushered into the courtroom and the matter was called up by the Court bailiff.

It is crucial to note that the proceedings by the magistrates were forced to halt momentarily as I was still reading the charge sheet as I was only having sight of it then. When court began, I openly made a request to call a lawyer so that they can represent me. Instead, the prosecuting officer summited that the matter is one which required to be held in camera/ private and away from the public. I then inquired as to whether this excludes the attendance of my attorney and I did not get an answer and instead the matter nonetheless proceeded
I also made the request to engage a lawyer after the charge were read to me and after my right were explained to me that I have a right to legal representation. Despite the fact that I had made it clear that I want a lawyer to represent me, court proceedings did not halt, instead an order for my remand was issued and I was informed that I will detained at the Women’s prison in pursuance  thereof for 14 days.

Immediately thereafter, I was whisked away to police headquarters in Central Business District (CBD). When we arrived there, that is when a phone was availed to me by one Mr Mashabile to call my lawyer’s office at around 1430 hours. I informed them that I have been arrested and being taken to Women’s Prison and they should come quickly. From there I was taken to women’s Prison to be received by the prison officials. Immediately after being checked in I was the escorted out by the same investigating officer to be taken to my residence in Block 7, Gaborone where I was informed that a search is going to be conducted.

As we were exiting through the gates of Women’s prison, my attorney Phatsimo Mphetolang and my nephew Sean Maswabi were waiting outside the gate. I quickly handed my attorney a copy of the charge sheet and told her that I am being taken to have my house for searching where she shortly arrived behind us.

When my attorney proceed to inquire from myself within earshot of the investigation officer of the investigation officers into details of the charge sheet and my arrest to engage with me, she was lashed at the investigating officers and fearfully told that she is obstructing justice and interfering with police investigation and demanded to leave the residence. She left, but returned a few minutes later to observe the search. The search was concluded at around 1730 hours and I was taken to CBD later on to Women’s Prison at around 1900hrs.

I only managed to consult and speak to my attorney on the Saturday morning. 19th of October 2019 after the fact. My lawyers verily inform me hat on the 21st October 2019 they attended at the Broadhurst magistrate Court to secure copies of the court record detailing all that transpired leading to the issuance of the granting of court order for my remand. They inform me that they managed to secure a copy of the court as I had not been furnished with it by the prosecuting team after it was granted against me.

They proceeded to request for a formal record of proceedings from court to confirm my assertions made in the affidavit herein and at the time of making this application it was still made available to them. Annexed hereto is a copy of letter making the request marked “WHM 1-3.”
My attorney informs me that she met with the court reporter, Ms Baleseng who verify informed her that she will be away from the office from the 22nd October 2019 onwards as she is an election officer in the upcoming 2019 general elections and will only assist with the transcribed record after the elections when she has reported for duty bearing in mind that the 23rd, 24th and 25th of October 2019 has been declared public holidays and she will not be working.

My attorney proceeded to draft the urgent application and came to see me to go over the court documents together for my input around 1500Hours. Count 1, I am accused of having pecuniary resource disproportionate with my present or past known sources of income. I have not been questioned about my assets and means and even if I had being, the prosecution does not need me in jail as I believe they would have already investigated to come up with such charge.

I submit that the first element of the charge is clearly not met as I have not been given the opportunity to explain my assets, which would have would have been the first logical thing to do as demanded by the law. I find it strange that u could be said to have amassed wealth or asserts disproportionate to my means when I do not even have a house to my name or hefty bank account to myself.  Firstly, I am accused of transferring money to Isaac Kgosi on the date unknown, the date in my view should be easy to establish from the documents or whatever instrument that gave rise to the charges.

Secondly, I do not have an offshore account in the names given or any other name. Thirdly, I have no knowledge of Blue File (PTY) Ltd and have never been a signatory to its account.  I was then handed the affidavit to me in my prison cell by Ms Makula. I am advised that the prison official refused to commissioner of oaths to see me in a person in order to depose to the affidavit as required by the law. No amount of persuasion helped and I am told Ms Makula telephoned Ms Nfila who apparently is the boss and ask if they can open the cell for me to meet the commissioner of oaths and that she refused.

I am advised that my attorney Ms Phatshimo  Mphetolang, Mr Uyapo Ndadi, together with Mr Maswabi had to turn back at around 2000hrs and arranged with Ms Makula to come the next day and were informed that the earliest opportunity to see me is at 0830hours. The refusal by the prosecution to allow me legal representation has greatly prejudiced me. It is also unclear that my efforts to seek redress from the court are also frustrated by the authority’s refusal to assist me with commissioning my affidavit.

With respect to the Third count, I do not have to be incarcerated for it as the charge clearly states the nature and specifics of it.” If I had been given the opportunity to engage a lawyer, it would have come out that the passport was used for one intelligence mission abroad which details I am happy to share with the court in camera and was at the behest of my employer, being the DIS and Mr Mabuse Pule, the head of the Immigration Department at the time. The name was my operational name as it is customary in the intelligence field.

After completing the mission, I personally handed over the passport to the director General at the time, and I saw him put it on the safe. I have no knowledge of what he did with it afterwards. But I can confirm to the court that I never had to use it again afterwards.” Uyapo Ndadi who is also representing her in this matter said, “the court postponed her bail application to the 29th October 2019, at 830am.

In summary, she details how she was denied contact with her lawyers and family upon arrest and that she was only allowed to talk to her lawyers after the court issued an order detaining her. After that, the prison officials refused to commission her affidavit saying they have been instructed not to do so. This meant she could not approach court earlier. Her lawyers had to bring another lawyer from outside to assist with the commissioning of documents so that she can then apply for bail.”

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No end in sight for Nam, Botswana borderline feud

27th July 2021
Namibian-report

Despite the President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and his Namibian counterpart, Hage Geingob giving an impression that the borderline security disputes are a thing of the past and that diplomatic ties remain tight, fresh developments from Namibia suggest otherwise, following Geingod’s close confidante’s attack on Botswana and its army.

Giving a Zambezi region state of the affairs last week, a Geingob-appointed governor of Zambezi region, Colonel Lawrence Ampofu, a retired Colonel in the Namibian Defence Force, former plan combatant during the liberation struggle of Namibia, in a written speech, charged at the BDF and condemned their killings of the Namibians as unacceptable.

“The security situation within our borders remains calm. The incidence of the Botswana Defence Force shootings and wanton killings on the Nchindo Brothers on 05 November 2020 and other 37 Namibian lives lost since independence remain a serious challenge with our neighbor, Botswana.

Our residents living along the Chobe, Linyanti and Kwandu rivers are living under constant threats, harassment, fear, intimidation and killings and such activities are condemned and not acceptable,” he said under the safety and security title.

The attack suggests that Namibia has not bought Botswana’s story. Ampofu was part of the entourage that accompanied Geingob to the three Nchindo brothers and their cousin who were gunned down by the BDF, and is reported to be privy to the details of the unpublished Botswana-Namibia joint investigations report about the killings as a governor or political head of the region which has eight electoral constituencies.

The report contains the sensitive details of how the three Namibians referred as poachers by the BDF – and Fisherman by the Namibian government were gunned down on 5 November last year along the Chobe River.  They were Tommy (48), Martin (40) and Wamunyima Nchindo (36), and their cousin Sinvula Muyeme (44).

His views are not really in contrast to his President’s views who also described the BDF as trigger happy in a scripted report to his cabinet.

The Zambezi region is located in the extreme north east part of Namibia and covers a total of 14,667.6 square kilometres. “We share borders with Angola, Zambia to the north, Zimbabwe to the east and Botswana to the South,” he said.

Sampofu was first appointed governor of the former Caprive Region in 2010 by the former Namibian president, Hifikepunye Pohamba and was reappointed as Zambezi governor by President Dr.Hage Geingob in 2015, a term running to 2025.

37 Namibia residents killed by Botswana army so far

Sampofu is a man who continues to insist that Botswana has killed 37 residents of his region. A video posted by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) shows him alleging that at least 37 Namibians were killed by the BDF, after he met with the community at Impalila.

“It is true, the BDF started long ago. As we speak 37 lives have been lost here in Impalila along the Chobe river going to Linyanti and Kwado rivers up to Lizauli. All those families lost their loved ones,” Ampofu said in the video posted by NBC.

It is not known how the BDF, which has maintained their position that the Namibians were engaging in illegal activities of poaching, treats the constant attacks by the Namibian authorities, but they have repeatedly vowed to continue protecting the country’s sovereignty and natural resources.

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Masisi gives KBL the “middle finger”

27th July 2021
President Masisi

Botswana’s premier brewer and leading distributor of beer, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL), this month dragged the government of Botswana to court after President Mokgweetsi Masisi imposed an alcohol ban with immediate effect. KBL labelled the decision as unjustifiable, irrational and that it overrides the rights that are enshrined in the constitution.

This week, Masisi through attorneys representing the government disparaged the case in his written affidavit of KBL’s application, referring to it as frivolous and that it ought to be dismissed with costs on a punitive scale.

In his court papers, Masisi reminded KBL that Botswana is a Republic whose laws find validity from the constitution, and in terms of Section 17 of the constitution the President is empowered to declare a State of Emergency and that it is a common cause that Botswana is under such state.

“It is common course that there is in existence emergency powers (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 as amended from time to time which is solely designed to regulate the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Masisi pointed out that he denies that the application before Court is proper such as to challenge the lawfulness and validity of a regulation made and a notice published in the exercise of a legislative function in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act which empowers the President to make regulations as appear to him to be necessary and expedient for securing public safety.

Furthermore, the President revealed that the decision to ban alcohol sales was not arrived at willy-nilly, but rather that there had been careful considerations that the risks posed by Covid-19 had increased and therefore it was expedient and necessary to suspend all liquor licenses.

Moreover, Masisi denied that the decision to reinstate the ban should be made by the Director of Health Services as indicated by KBL in their nature of the application, “the Director is to cause the notice to be published in the Gazette after consultation with the President.”

Masisi indicated that the role of the Director of Health Services is to publish a regulation made by the President.

He further, reminded KBL that the power to make regulations in a State of Public Emergency in accordance with the EPA lies with the President, “such power includes the amendment of any enactment, suspending the operation of any enactment or modification of an enactment.”

According to Masisi, his decision to ban alcohol sales was based on evidence provided by the Director of Health Services who indicated to him that there was a sudden spike in the transmission of the Covid-19 virus following the reinstatement of liquor licenses.

Another piece of advice tendered by the Director of Health to Masisi was that bars and other liquor outlets were some of the major hotspots in the sense of such being high-risk areas at which the virus spread rapidly.

“Alcohol was one of the major causes of non-compliance with the health protocols that were put in place to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Further, there was an indication that more arrests were made on people failing to adhere to Covid-19 protocols more particularly at places where there were gatherings,” he contended.

He pointed out that therefore, it was expedient and or necessary to preserve lives and to reduce the risks of transmissions of the virus to reinstate the suspension of liquor licenses.

Moreover, the President says that it must be noted that he avers that the Director of Health Services is a credible source on matters of public health of which he also accordingly gave due weight to the Director’s advice on deciding to reinstate the ban through the impugned notice.

“I am aware and was always aware at the time of promulgating the regulation complained of that it shall negatively affect some sectors of the economy. However, after due consideration and receipt of advice, I decided to give priority to the safety and health of the nation,” Masisi said.

He presaged KBL that it would not be prudent and in the best interest of the nation to ignore a health emergency such as Covid-19 and gave preference to trading and making of profits by the applicant. “The results would only be catastrophic to the extent that when we emerge from the scourge we would be left with a depleted and ailing nation from Covid-19 and its side effects.”

Furthermore, his written affidavit further pointed out that the decision to reinstate the ban on alcohol was taken notwithstanding understanding and appreciation of the economic hardships that would befall the country.

However, he said he deliberately made the decision based on the evidence provided to him by the Director of Health, whose evidence he believes to be credible to give public/safety and health priority over economic considerations in some sectors.

In making the decision, Masisi states that he was and considered different options including allowing for sale of alcohol consumption off premises, however the evidence he had been provided with suggested that such other alternatives would not achieve the overall objective of securing public safety and health by reducing the risk of the spread of the virus.

“By the time I imposed the ban, alcohol was already being sold for consumption off-premises. This did not work. The information provided to me by the Director and the Presidential Task-Force team demonstrated that consumers purchased alcohol and then loitered and consumed it within the peripheries of bars and other liquor outlets,” he said.

Attached to the affidavit as emphasis, were photographs and videos of Gaborone West, Phase 4 in mid-June 2021, which he explains circulated on social media and was brought to his attention.

“I need not say much about the photos as they depict a crowd exceeding 50 gathered at the parking area of a bar. There is little or no regard to Covid-19 protocols. It was clear to me and my advisors, including the Director of Health Services and members of the Presidential Task-Force team that the total ban of alcohol was necessary to manage the risk of increase in infections, to understand what seems to have led to an increase in the risk of infection when alcohol is present I was advised by the Presidential Task-Force team that scientifically there has been evidence that alcohol narrows physical distance,” he argued.

Masisi says that allegations made by KBL are serious allegations of infringement of fundamental rights yet they fail to state how imposition and reinstatement of the suspension of liquor licenses out of necessity and expediency of the health of the nation infringes on the rights as alleged.

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Gov’t gives parallel statements on COVAX

27th July 2021
COVAX---lelatisitswe

In  an embarrassing turn of events that depicts disintegration in government communication on the fight against COVID-19, President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Assistant Minister of Health & Wellness, Sethomo Lelatisitswe gave two conflicting statements on the same matter, same day, just minutes apart.

The Commander-in-Chef told health practitioners and residents in Ramotswa that the COVAX facility has scammed African countries after billions were paid in a crowd funding effort to procure COVID-19 vaccines in bulk.

“We have pumped money as developing countries of the African continent into the COVAX Facility but the returns were not satisfactory, they cheated us,” the President said in Ramotswa.

According to President Masisi, the COVAX facility Vaccine only came in bits and pieces, frustrating the continent ‘s head immunity targets amid rapidly spreading Delta Variant which is currently reversing all progress made by Africa in containing the contagious virus.

“What we are getting is very small portions of the vaccine, they keep telling us that there is shortage of supply, this is not fair, but we have paid in advance, however what can we do, we have no choice but to spend more  money and look for other avenues of securing other available vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile in Gaborone, Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness told Parliament that vaccine from COVAX facility is anchoring Botswana’s vaccination program.

“I am not aware of such information that COVAX facility is not delivering as expected, we are actually bolstered by COVAX facility in this country,” he said responding to a question from Mahalapye West Member of Parliament David Tshere who is also Chairman of Parliament Committee On Health and HIV/AIDS.

“We have received doses as ordered from the COVAX facility, and we are still receiving more, I have not seen that information which is purported to have been revealed by the President, unless its new information, we as the Ministry we are not aware of any frustrations by the COVAX facility,” he said.

COVAX is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside key delivery partner UNICEF.

Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

The facility is a global coalition that works to ensure fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccines around the world. So far, 190 countries have joined the COVAX initiative, including all 22 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

The COVAX Facility aims to have 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available for distribution across the globe by the end of 2021, targeting those most at risk (e.g. frontline health workers) and most vulnerable severe diseases and death (e.g. elderly and people with co-morbidities).

On other vaccination issues President Masisi revealed, still in Greater Gaborone vaccination centre visits, that Botswana has placed orders with Pfizer, a United States vaccine producer noting that they have promised to deliver next year.

Meanwhile, government kick-started phase two of the Covid-19 vaccination program this week, opening up for ages between 30 and 54.

President Masisi revealed that this was done because some elderly were reluctant to be inculcated.

“We can’t take forever trying to convince people to take vaccine, we moved to the next age segments because we cannot afford to have vaccines-which are already in shortage supply to just lie there,” he said.

On Friday, Ministry of Health revealed that it was receiving large numbers of people below the age of 55 lining up to be vaccinated.

In a statement the Ministry of Health said it, “acknowledges the huge turnout that marked the commencement of the Phase two COVID-19 vaccination program”.

Given this high turnout, especially in the Greater Gaborone region, the ministry announced an extension of operation hours in order to serve the huge crowds that had come for vaccination.

Of the nearly 85 000 doses that were being doled across the country as first doses, the majority of the Greater Gaborone vaccination sites were already getting depleted by 1800hrs on 22 July 2021.

As a result of this development, the ministry took a decision to discontinue the extended hours of operation announced yesterday for vaccination sites in Gaborone.

This means that vaccination sites in Gaborone and elsewhere in the country which still have some vaccines, will offer them in the normal working hours and days of the week.

The Ministry says it appreciates the great desire to be vaccinated shown by thousands of citizens and residents of this country and wishes to assure them that it will continue to expedite their vaccination every time vaccines become available. As has been communicated in various fora, more vaccines are expected in August 2021.

As at July 2021, Botswana has so far received 62, 400 doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD bought through the Covax facility, 30,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine donated by the Republic of India, 19, 890 doses of the Pfizer vaccine bought through the COVAX facility, 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine, donated by the Peoples Republic of China and another 200, 000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine bought through bilateral negotiations with Sinovac company in China.

“We encourage Batswana to remain hopeful that although it’s taking longer than anticipated, enough COVID-19 vaccines will eventually arrive in our country. We urge them to always strictly abide by all COVID-19 protocols so that they protect themselves and others from this deadly virus,” the ministry said.

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