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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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BONELA speaks on same-sex decriminalization case

18th October 2021
BONELA

In June 2019, a case involving the Attorney General was brought before the High Court, in which the applicant Letsweletse Motshidiemang challenged Sections 164 (a) and 167 of the Penal Code. The applicant contended that these sections are unconstitutional because they violate the fundamental rights of liberty and privacy. 

The applicant argued that these sections violated his right and freedom to liberty as he was subject to abject ignominy. These laws subjected the LGBTIQ community to brutal and debasing treatment through social control and public morality. On the 1st of November 2017, the Botswana High Court further allowed Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals of Botswana (LEGABIBO) to join the case as amicus curiae.

However, in July 2019, the respondents, in this case, i.e. the Government, filed an appeal against this iconic High Court ruling seeking re-criminalization of homosexuality. Human Rights Group has criticized this move of the Government all over the world.  The appeal was heard before five judges at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday. The State was represented by Advocate Sidney Pilane, while LEGABIBO and Letsweletse Motshidiemang were represented by Tshiamo Rantao and Gosego Rockfall Lekgowe, respectively.

Non-Governmental Organizations advocating for the LGBTIQ+ community joined the two parties at the Court of Appeal during this case. They argue that the minority group should enjoy their rights, especially the right to privacy and health. Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) Chief Executive Officer, Cindy Kelemi says the issues being raised by LEGABIBO are that as individuals belonging to the LGBTIQ community, they have and must share equal rights, including the right to privacy, which also speaks to being able to involve in sexual activities, including anal sex.

“Those rights are framed within the constitution, and therefore a violation of any of those rights allow them to approach the courts and seek for redress. We do not need the law to be regulating what we do in the privacy of our homes. The law cannot determine how and when we can have sex and with who, so the law does not have any business in that context. What we are saying is that the law is violating the right to privacy,” she said on the sidelines of the decriminalization case in Gaborone on Tuesday.

The first case involving the homosexual act was the Utjiwa Kanane vs the State in 2003. Contrary to section 164(c) of the Penal Code, Kanane was charged with committing an unnatural offence and engaging in indecent practices between males, contrary to section 167. The conduct at issue involved Graham Norrie, a British tourist, and occurred in December 1994. (Norrie pleaded guilty, paid a fine, and left the country.)

Kanane pleaded not guilty, alleging that sections 164(c) and 167 both violated the constitution. The High Court ruled that these sections of the Penal Code did not violate the constitution. Kanane then appealed to the Court of Appeal. BONELA CEO recalls that in its judgment then, the High Court indicated, Batswana were not ready for homosexual acts. Twenty years later, the same courts are saying that Batswana are ready, she says.

“They gave the explicit example that shows that indeed Batswana are ready. There are policies and documents in place that accommodate people from marginalized communities and minority populations. The question now is that why is it hard now to recognize the full rights of an individual who is of the LGBTI community?” She further says intimacy is only an expression. The law that restricts homosexuality makes it hard for LGBTIQ members to express themselves in a way that affirms who they are.

“We want a situation where the law facilitates for the LGBTIQ community to be free and express themselves. The stigma that they face in communities is way too punitive. They are called names; some have been physically violated and raped at times. It shows that the law doesn’t not only prevent them from expressing themselves, it also exposes them to violence.” The law on its own, Kelemi submits, cannot change the status quo, adding that there is a need for more awareness and education on human rights and what it means for an individual to have rights.

“As it is now, it is very tough for some to do that because of a legal environment that is not enabling. We also want to see a situation where LGBTIQ+ people can access services and be confident that they are provided with non-discriminatory services. It is challenging now because health care providers, social workers and law enforcement officers believe that it is illegal to be homosexual. What we are saying is that if you have an enabling law, then that will facilitate for people to be able to express themselves, including accessing health services,” Kelemi said.

“As we are doing this advocacy work, one of the issues that we picked up is that there is lack of capacity, especially on the part of healthcare workers. We noted that when we provide services or mobilize Men who have sex with other men (MSM) to access health facilities, health care workers are not welcoming, forcing them to hideaway. We must put an end to this to allow these people the freedom that they equally deserve.”

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Masisi warns Gov’t officials

18th October 2021
President Masisi

The President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, has declared as an act of corruption the attitude and practice by government officials and contractors to deliver projects outside time and budget, adding that such a practice should end as it eats away from the public coffers.

For a very long time, management problems and vast cost overruns have been the order of the day in Botswana, resulting in public frustrations. Speaking at the commissioning of the Masama/Mmamashia 100 Kilometres project this week, Masisi said: “There is a tendency in government to leave projects to drag outside their allocated completion time and budget. I want to stress that this will not be tolerated. It is an act of corruption, and I will be engaging offices on this issue,” Masisi said.

In an interview with this publication over the issue, the Director-General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Tymon Katholo, says, “any project that goes beyond its scope and budget raises red flags.” He continued that: “Corruption on these issues can be administrative and criminal. It may be because government officials have been negligent or been paid to be negligent by ignoring certain obligations or procedures. “This, as you may be aware has serious implications on not only of the economy but even the citizens who use these facilities or projects,” Katlholo said, adding that his agency is equally concerned.

According to the DCEC director, the selection, planning and delivery of infrastructure or projects is critical. In most cases, this is where the corruption would have occurred, leading to a troubled project. A public finance expert at the University of Botswana (UB), Emmanuel Botlhale, attributes poor project implementation to declining public accountability, lack of commitment to reforming the public sector, a decline in the commitment by state authorities and lack of a culture of professional project management.

In his research paper titled, ‘Enhancing public project implementation in Botswana during the NDP 11 period,’ Botlhale stated that successful implementation is critical in development planning. If there is poor project implementation, economic development will be stalled.
Corruption is particularly relevant for large and uncommon projects where the public sector acts as a client, and experts say Megaprojects are very likely to be affected by corruption. Corruption worsens both cost and time performance and the benefits expected from such projects.

Speaking during this week’s Masama/Mmamashia pipeline commissioning, Khato Civils chairman said Africans deserve a chance because they are capable, further adding that the Africans do not have to think that only Whites and Chinese people can do mega projects.  During his rule, former president Ian Khama went public to attack Chinese contractors for costing the government a move that ended up fuelling tensions between China and Botswana after Khama dispatched the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, to China to register Botswana’s complaints with Chinese government-owned construction companies.  Botswana had approached the Chinese government for help in its marathon battle with Chinese companies contracted to build, among others, the failed controversial Morupule B power plant and refurbishment of Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSIK).

 

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Guma’s battle for millions of Pula give Court headache

18th October 2021
Guma Moyo

A legal battle between former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) legislator Samson Moyo Guma and First National Bank (FNB) over a multimillion oil refinery project intensified this week with Justice Zein Kebonang referring the matter to Court of Appeal for determination.  The project belongs to Moyo Guma’s company called United Refineries which he has since placed under judicial management.

The war of words between Moyo Guma and FNB escalated after the company’s property worth millions of Pula were put up for sale in execution by the bank and scheduled to take place on 8th October. It emerges from Court papers that the bank had secured an order from the High Court to place the company’s property under the hammer.

Moyo Guma then also approached the High Court seeking among others that the public auction scheduled for 8th October 2021 be stayed. He contended that the assets that were to be sold belonged in reality to United Refineries and that as the company had been under judicial management at the time of the attachment, the intended sale in execution was unlawful.

He also sought the Court to declare that the writs of execution against the properties of guarantors and sureties of United Refineries Botswana Holdings Propriety Limited (the company) are unlawful.  Moyo Guma also sought a stay of the execution against the property known as Plot 43556 in Francistown, that is, the land buildings, plant and machinery which make up the property and any all immovable or movable property belonging to the guarantors and sureties of the company pending finalization of the winding up of United Refineries.

But FNB disputed Moyo Guma’s assertions and submitted that the properties in question belonged to TEC (Pty) Ltd and not United Refiners. TEC Pty Ltd which is one of the shareholders in United Refineries is one of the sureties and co-principal debtors of a debt amounting to P24 million owed by United Refineries to FNB.  FNB argued in papers that the properties belonged to TEC because it was TEC which had passed a covering mortgage bond in its favour over the property it now sought to execute.

Moyo Guma submitted that the covering mortgage bond passed in favour of FNB did not tell the full story as the property in question was in truth and fact owned by United Refineries and not TEC Pty Ltd. He maintained that the shares had been had been passed by the company in exchange for the properties in question and that the parties had always been guided by the spirt of the share agreement in dealing with each other despite delays in the change or transfer of ownership of plots 43556 and plot 43557 in Francistown.

Kebonang said it was clear to him that the two plots (43556 and 435570 belonged to United Refineries notwithstanding that TEC (Pty) Ltd had passed a mortgage bond over them in favour of FNB.  “For this reason the properties were immune from attachment or sale in execution so long as the judicial management order was in place,” he said.

The background of the case is that Moyo Guma together with five other investors, namely Elffel Flats (Pty) Ltd; Mmoloki Tibe; TEC (Pty) Ltd; Profidensico (Pty) Ltd and Tiedze Bob Chapi, each bound themselves as sureties and co-principal debtors in respect of a debt owed by a company called United Refineries Botswana Holdings (Proprietary) Limited (the Company), to First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) (1st Respondent).

FNB had extended banking facilities to the company in the amount of P24 million which was then secured through the suretyship of Moyo Guma and other shareholders.  Court records show that Moyo had on the 11th February obtained a temporary order for the appointment of a provisional judicial manager in respect of United Refineries and it was confirmed by the High Court on 24th September 2019.

In terms of the final court order by the High Court issued by Justice Tshepho Motswagole all judicial proceedings against the company, execution of all writs, summons and process were stayed and could only proceed with leave of Court. Court documents also show that First National Bank had sued the company and the sureties for the recovery of the debt owed to it and through a consent order, the bank withdrew its lawsuit against the company.

But FNB later instituted fresh proceedings against Moyo Guma and did not cite the company in its proceedings.  “There is no explanation in the record as to why the Applicant was now reflected as the 1st Defendant and why the company had suddenly been removed as the 1st Defendant. There was no application either for amendment or substitution by the bank,” said Justice Kebonang.

FNB had also argued that it sought to proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship they signed and that by signing the suretyship agreement, Moyo and other sureties had renounced all defence available to them and could therefore be sued without first proceedings against the principal debtor (United Refineries).  The question, Kebonang said, was that can FNB proceed to execute against Moyo Guma and other sureties on the basis of the suretyship contracts they signed?

“The starting point is that the Applicant (Moyo Guma) and others by binding themselves as sureties became liable for debts of the principal debtor and such liability is joint and several. He said the consequences of placing the company under judicial management means that every benefit extended to it should also extend to sureties.

“If the company is afforded more time to pay or its debt is discharged, reduced or compromised or suspended the obligation of sureties is to be likewise treated. It follows in my view that where judicial proceedings are suspended or stayed against the company, then any recourse against the sureties is similarly stayed or suspended,’ said Kebonang.

He added that “In the circumstances of this case, it seems to me that so long as the company is under judicial management, the moratorium that applies to it must also apply to its sureties/guarantors and no execution of the writs should be permitted against them. Any execution would be invalid.”

“Mindful that there is judicial precedent on this point in Botswana, at least none that I am aware of, and given its significance, I consider it prudent that the Court of Appeal must provide a determinative answer to the question whether a creditor can proceed against sureties where a company is under judicial management,” said Kebonang.

Pending the determination of the Court of Appeal, he issued the following order; the execution of writs issued in favour of FNB against Moyo and other sureties/guarantors of United Refinery are hereby stayed pending the determination of the legal question referred to the Court of Appeal.

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