The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was on Thursday left with no option but to set another mention date to give themselves time to advise themselves in a case where they are prosecuting former spy boss, Isaac Kgosi for exposing the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) operations to the public.
Kgosi is alleged to have disclosed photographs of DIS security agents which were later featured in some publications claiming that there was a plot to assassinate him. He had allegedly shared with the said media houses pictures of his alleged perpetrators who are intelligence agents armed with weapons.
In his version on the complaint letter to the security organs, Kgosi claimed that the two intelligence agents had followed him into the physiotherapy clinic where they aggressively demanded from the receptionist that they be taken to him. He further alleges that he followed and found his perpetrators parked outside; deadly armed with weapons of war including an Uzi submachine gun after their request was turned down by the receptionist at the clinic.
The postponement of the case came after the DPP failed to explain whether they will go for trial without evidence of the cell phone or whether to be given time to continue looking for the said phone. When the case resumed, DPP attorney Thato Dibeela urged the court to allow Kgosi to take a plea, and this was dismissed by Kgosi’s attorney Thabiso Tafila who stated that, “I am uncomfortable with this plea, my client cannot take a plea when we have not been given all the necessary information as the state is still investigating him on this matter.
They alleged that he took pictures of security agents using a certain phone, just yesterday twenty officers were at his house in search of the said phone,” said Tafila, adding that the state should make it clear if they are going for trial without the said phone or not. And in her response, Dibeela said, “I do not want to bind myself. What I can say is that at the moment we do not have the pictures but we will avail them to the defense as and when we get them,” she said.
Dibeela further argued that the defense should bear in mind that the matter before court is not about the alleged photographs that were captured but about the violation of the DIS laws. “The charge sheet does not say the matter was brought to this court for the charge of photographs. We can proceed with this case with or without them. At this point we still do not have the photographs.” It was then that Regional Magistrate Masilo Mathaka told Dibeela to either set another mention date or decide that they will go to trial without the evidence of the phone.
Sources in the intelligence revealed that efforts to confiscate the alleged gadget from Kgosi failed dismally. They further revealed that the said gadget has shown that it was last used on the day the photographs were leaked to the mentioned publication. “It is clear that the phone was destroyed, he could not have kept it around. That is for sure.” The above mentioned source further revealed to this publication that according to the technicians Kgosi had backed up information in other gadgets, his computers, laptops and hard drives therefore all those were to be confiscated.
Another source from Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) disclosed to this publication that the gadgets used to back up could not be confiscated as it only restricted them to only the cellphone. “The search warrant restricted us to only the cellphone, it is very hard getting evidence for this case. Even if we can get another search warrant, it would be too late. He will dispose all the information just like the cellphone.”
A month back the DIS confronted Kgosi in a heated argument at his mother’s funeral at his home village of Matsiloje over what they said is his refusal to return a government cellphone. It is alleged that the DIS later confiscated two of Kgosi’s phones but later realized that they were not the ones used to capture the said photographs. More security agents were back at Kgosi’s house earlier this week in an attempt to further search for the cellphone. “We had thought the pictures were in those phones we confiscated a while back,” said the source.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.
“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).