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DIS guns for Khama aides in planned raids

Four more high profile figures are expected to be raided and investigated in a planned Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) operation, Weekend Post has established. High noon came on Tuesday when former DIS chief, Colonel Isaac Kgosi was apprehended by his successor retired Brigadier Peter Magosi at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport left many tongues wagging.  Ironically the arrest the arrest of Kgosi was made by the very organisation he formed in conjunction with the military police and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS).

Kgosi was arrested around 10 pm in front of his own family; wife and daughter upon their arrival from a holiday in India, where he reportedly attended the wedding of the daughter of Choppies supremo, Ramachandran Ottapathu. Sources reveal that a network of prominent individuals have teamed up with Khama to assist former cabinet minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to topple Masisi from power.  The events of Tuesday night were a watershed moment in the political battle that is expected to ensue. 
Why was he arrested at the airport and not at his home or elsewhere?

Sources close to the events suggest that the airport was the only convenient and safest place for Kgosi’s arrest. They say arresting Kgosi immediately after passing through the security scanners at the airport they were sure he was harmless and disarmed.  “Allowing a former spy boss to get inside his property and you come following him with bad news can be deadly. Obviously he has his stuff in his car and at his house. So, the airport was the safest place,” said the source.

Questions remain on what will be the ramifications of the arrest of the former spy boss. Will this lead to more arrests and what are the implications for his former boss, Dr Ian Khama? It is a well held belief that Kgosi and Khama have a close relationship. Kgosi was forced out of office in May after signing a five year contract. He has all along denied wrong doing but the DIS feels confident he is cornered and will confess to many transgressions under his reign.

 Late last year, some agents from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) were denied entry and subjected to insults at Kgosi’s Phakalane house in their attempt to get a statement from him in connection with corruption offences. They were forced to go back without doing the job and were only allowed to get a statement at the premises of his attorney Unoda Mack the following day.

The search

After spending a night at the Sir Seretse Khama BDF barracks in Mogoditshane, Kgosi was released on compassionate grounds after complaining of a back ache. However, the search on his properties continued throughout. Speaking to a source in the intelligence, the release of Kgosi was also done after the DIS was satisfied with what they were looking for amongst which was the laptop containing vital information. “Within the laptop was information on undisclosed DIS safe houses which contained hundreds of millions of Pula and foreign currency,” said the source.

Throughout the search and subsequent release, Kgosi is thought to have been visibly shaken and cooperated fully with the authorities. This was a stark contrast to his earlier demeanour of using threatening language.

Offences presented to the DPP so far

WeekendPost can confirm that the tax evasion issue that the DIS agents claimed to be arresting Kgosi for on Tuesday was just a holding charge. The State intends to pursue him on a multiple charges known to this publication, both criminal and civil. All these charges dodged his tenure as head of Intelligence. A few of the possible charges have so far been handed over to the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP), for further assessment by the DCEC.

Possible charges before the DPP office which it is alleged are yet to be finalised are: The P900 000 Sentlhane farm which Kgosi purchased in 2009.  Allegations are that the money was deposited by Vladacom; the P300 000 Debswana tender. It is alleged that money was deposited into Kgosi’s Silver Shadows account from Debswana in 2010. It is not clear whether the money was for the government or his personal things; Gakgatla farm, before being bought by Kgosi, the farm was previously presented for auction on a number of occasions.

Allegations are that Kgosi has manipulated the mortgage sale process; Lifestyle audit, it is alleged that Kgosi has during his tenure accumulated so much wealth that was impossible to acquire with his salary and property alone; Maboane farm, it is also alleged the farm was illegally acquired. Kgosi is thought to have raided many government funds using the non-accountability of the DIS to government.  Some of the funds were from Bank of Botswana Reserves, disaster management funds, alcohol levy and BURS funds.

He is also alleged to have amassed well by blackmailing many corporates to give him shares in their companies. Choppies and CMB are one of the companies he is being associated with. He is also alleged to have run a scheme of getting foreigners to pay huge amounts to get citizenship or working visas through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration.

Politically motivated

While Kgosi’s arrest seem to have been welcomed by many Batswana, some hold the view that the whole arrest thing is politically motivated. Kgosi was former President Ian Khama’s right hand man during his tenure. They were running the day to day of the country together with Kgosi being the Intelligence boss. Many people were even of the view that Kgosi did not deserve the said post. At some point Kgosi implicated Magosi in stealing the spy equipment which was said to be a lie as Magosi was seen as a threat to Kgosi on issues of intelligence.

This led to Khama firing Magosi. Immediately after Khama retired as the president of the country and handing over to Masisi, Masisi fired Kgosi and replaced him with Magosi. The decision pit Khama and Kgosi against Masisi and Magosi. Currently, there is a tussle between Khama and Masisi. Masisi is seen to be reversing almost everything that Khama implemented, and Khama is seen to be frustrating Masisi’s administration and sponsoring contestants to topple Masisi from the presidency.

After firing Kgosi as DIS director, Masisi went on to reject his name after it was submitted by Khama for a post of Senior Private Secretary in the former president’s office. The decision is said to have worsened relations between the two men to an extent that it has reached irretrievable stage. Just a few weeks ago, Khama confessed that he was supporting Venson-Moitoi to contest against Masisi for presidency. Venson-Moitoi was immediately fired from as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development after announcing her intention to contest for the BDP presidency against Masisi.

Those in the political circle say, the move against Kgosi is just to frustrate Khama by touching his ‘touch not’. Kgosi is said to be sharing a lot of property with Khama. And searching him and confiscating some documents carrying what is deemed as secrets is hoped to put Khama in a panic mode.  =In terms of the Income Tax Act, the commissioner General can issue a warrant of arrest for unpaid tax. And the procedure is often resorted to against foreigners attempting to flee the country before settling their tax. It is rarely used against citizens.

Before one can also be deemed to have failed to pay tax, one must have filed their tax returns and an assessment done by BURS to determine how much owes. In Kgosi’s case, this was not done. There are strong allegations that Kgosi was in the process of doing something which warranted all these procedures to be broken.  A political commentator says the former spy boss appearing in court on corruption charges is hugely symbolic for a small country like Botswana.

 “This is an era of impunity coming to an end. The government led by new president Masisi is keen to distance itself from the controversy as it prepares to contest the national elections in a few months’ time.  But the faction of Moitoi is not having any of that, but said it has been a well calculated move to intimidate and harass those close to Masisi.” Kgosi’s opponents had long fought for him to be charged over his deed. Khama is thought to be the one who stood between DPP prosecuting Kgosi using his presidential powers.

Choose between Khama and family

Kgosi was arrested in the presence of his family, wife and daughter. His daughter cried in front of the media and DIS officials as her father was escorted inside the car. Kgosi politely decried to Magosi, “Let me hug my daughter first,” and he was allowed to,where upon he uttered the words,  “I will topple this government, I am telling you.” 

“You see that trauma that the family went through at the airport will force Kgosi to choose between Khama and his immediate family. Kgosi has done a lot because of Khama’s influence. He thinks he is untouchable because of Khama, and Khama thinks he is what he is because of Kgosi. So, really, Kgosi will have to choose between his friend and family. The family will have to call a meeting and ask him to reverse his steps so that they also stay peacefully in the country,” said a witness at the airport.

The humble Kgosi

DIS boss, Magosi could not stop praising Kgosi for the cooperation during the search. Though he was to be detained in safe custody for two days, Kgosi was only detained for a day and released as the search continued. “We are happy at the way he is cooperating with us. And we have decided to release him though the search will be continuing,” said Magosi at the end of the first day of the search at Phakalane. The search took a day and half at the Phakalane house; a few hours at Maboane farm and half a day at the Extension 11 house and Sentlhane farm. More documentation was collected at the Phakalane house.

Unidentified man spotted during the search

During the prolonged search at Kgosi’s Phakalane an unknown man was seen being escorted by the DISS officials into the yard covered with a beige towel. Two black laptop bags were confiscated from his car by BURS officials.

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Botswana still weighing in on Maseko’s assassination

27th January 2023

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.

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Kopong Murder: Accused interferes with witnesses again!

27th January 2023

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

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Ngamiland Cattle Farmers Gain Green Zone Revenue

27th January 2023

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.

These collaborative efforts being piloted in Habu and Eretsha villages also include the Pro-Nature Enterprises Project for the People of Southern Africa, funded by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Le Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM). This complementary funding from AFD and FFEM supports the implementation of the Herding4Health (H4H) model and Rangeland Stewardship Agreements across four rangeland sites in Southern Africa, including Habu and Eretsha, to incentivize best practices that could offer sustainability in the long term for livelihoods, conservation and human-wildlife coexistence.

“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).

Through co-financing of almost P1 billion from the Botswana government and Green Climate Fund, these interventions will be replicated, through The Ecosystem Based Adaptation and Mitigation in Botswana’s Communal Rangelands project, across the country. Both projects aim to improve the economic benefits of cattle owners and multitudes of Batswana households, while contributing to land restoration and climate change efforts by the Botswana government

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