Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Botswana Police Service (BPS) are on high alert over escalating incidents of obtaining of drivers’ licences unscrupulously.
It is understood that officials at the department of Road, Transport and Safety, which is regarded as one of the corrupt government departments, work in cahoots with driving school instructors and/or individuals to make the bogus driving licenses in exchange for underhand brown envelope. Information reaching this publication suggests that the operations of the syndicate are very multifaceted and intricate and that the bogus driving licenses look very authentic and cannot be detected by untrained personnel.
DCEC Spokesperson Nlayidzi Gambule confirmed to WeekendPost this week that counterfeit drivers’ licenses continue to be a concern to the corruption busting agency. He said “in the period between 2016 and 2017 alone the DCEC has received 36 cases across the country.” He explained that “the cases include but not limited to, selling of theory test papers, un-procedural issuance of yard and road test marks, un-procedural issuance of drivers’ licenses and soliciting of bribes for renewal of drivers’ license.”
Cases of obtaining of bogus licenses and fraudulent DRTS officials are said to be a headache for both the DCEC as well as the Botswana Police. Reports indicate that Police investigations have revealed at least one in every three heavy duty and extra heavy duty drivers on Botswana roads may be using counterfeit licenses forged by foreigners including Chinese, Indians and Pakistani crime syndicates who have infiltrated the Department of Road Transport and Safety.
It is understood that to demonstrate that a license is fake, it needs to be scanned to see if it’s interfaced with DRTS system procedurally. When approached by this publication to comment on the revelations, Department of Road, Transport and Safety deputy Director Goodwin Tlhogo had only this to say: “we don’t have those kinds of statistics on fake drivers’ licenses or any other information to that effect,” he said instead further referring this publication to the Botswana Police.
Speaking to WeekendPost, Botswana Police Service Director of Traffic Senior Assistant Commissioner, Katlholo Mosimanegape stated that “a total of 21 cases of fake drivers’ licenses have been recorded countrywide from 2016 to date.” It is further understood that the illicit selling and acquiring of drivers’ licenses have a direct bearing on road accidents and research indicates an increase in both recorded accidents and deaths and the number keeps swelling.
According to the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) data published in 2017, Road Traffic Accidents Deaths in Botswana reached 475 of total deaths. The age adjusted Death Rate is 22.23 per 100,000 of population, and ranks Botswana number 71 in the world. The Health Data used is published by WHO, World Bank and the United Nations for population.
In 2016, further research indicated that a total number of 18 373 road accidents were recorded in the country as compared to 17 654 the preceding year (2015). In terms of fatalities, a total of 450 people died in road crashes in 2016 as compared to 411 in 2015. WeekendPost could not however find any information linking the road accidents to the fake licensed drivers.
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP)’s decision to reject and appeal the High Court’s verdict on a case involving High Court Judge, Dr Zein Kebonang has frustrated the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Judge Kebonang’s back to work discussions.
JSC and Kebonang have been in constant discussions over the latter’s return to work following a ruling by a High Court panel of judges clearing him of any wrong doing in the National Petroleum Fund criminal case filed by the DPP. However the finalization of the matter has been hanged on whether the DPP will appeal the matter or not – the prosecution body has since appealed.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) top brass has declined a request by Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) to negotiate the legal fees occasioned by 2019 general elections petition in which the latter disputed in court the outcome of the elections.
This publication is made aware that UDC Vice President Dumelang Saleshando was left with an egg on his face after the BDP big wigs, comprising of party Chairman Slumber Tsogwane and Secretary General Mpho Balopi rejected his plea.
“He was told that this is a legal matter and therefore their (UDC) lawyer should engage ours (BDP) for negotiations because it is way far from our jurisdiction,” BDP Head of Communications, Kagelelo Kentse, told this publication.
This spelt doom for the main opposition party and Saleshando who seems not to have confidence and that the UDC lawyers have the dexterity to negotiate these kind of matters. It is not clear whether Saleshando requested UDC lawyer Boingotlo Toteng to sit at the table with Bogopa Manewe, Tobedza and Co, who are representing the BDP to strike a deal as per the BDP top echelons suggested.
“From my understanding, the matter is dealt with politically as the two parties are negotiating how to resolve it, but by far nothing has come to me on the matter. So I believe they are still substantively engaging each other,” Toteng said briefly in an interview on Thursday.
UDC petitioners saddled with costs after mounting an unprecedented legal suit before the court to try and overturn BDP’s October 2019 victory. The participants in the legal matter involves 15 parliamentary candidates’ and nine councillors. The UDC petitioned the court and contested the outcome of the elections citing “irregularities in some of the constituencies”.
In a brief ruling in January 2020, Judge President Ian Kirby on behalf of a five-member panel said: “We have no jurisdiction to entertain these appeals. These appeals must be struck out each with costs including costs of counsel”. This was a second blow to the UDC in about a month after their 2019 appeals were dismissed by the High Court a day before Christmas Day.
This week BDP attorneys decided to attach UDC petitioners’ property in a bid to settle the debts. UDC President Duma Boko is among those that will see their property being attached with 14 of his party members. “We have attached some and we are on course. So far, Dr. Mpho Pheko (who contested Gaborone Central) and that of Dr, Micus Chimbombi (who contested Kgalagadi South) will have their assets being sold on the 5th of February 2021,” BDP attorney Basimane Bogopa said.
Asked whether they met with UDC lawyers to try solve the matter, Bogopa said no and added. “Remember we are trying to raise the client’s funds, so after these two others will follow. Right now we are just prioritising those from Court of Appeal, as soon as the high court is done with taxation we will attach.”
Saleshando, when contacted about the outcomes of the meeting with the BDP, told WeekendPost that: “It would not be proper and procedural for me to tell you about the meeting outcomes before I share with UDC National Executive Committee (NEC), so I will have to brief them first.”
UDC NEC will meet on the 20th of next month to deal with a number of thorny issues including settling the legal fees. Negotiations with other opposition parties- Alliance for Progressives and Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) are also on the agenda.
Currently, UDC has raised P44 238 of the P565 000 needed to cover bills from the Court of Appeal (CoA). This is the amount in a UDC trust account which is paltry funds equating 7.8 per cent of the overall required money. In the past despite the petitioners maintaining that there was promise to assist them to settle legal fees, UDC Spokesperson, Moeti Mohwasa then said the party has never agreed in no way to help them.
“We have just been put in debt by someone,” one of the petitioners told this publication in the past. “President’s (Duma Boko) message was clear at the beginning that money has been sourced somewhere to help with the whole process but now we are here there is nothing and we are just running around trying to make ends meet and pay,” added the petitioner in an interview UDC NEC has in December last year directed all the 57 constituencies to each raise a minimum of P10, 000. The funds will be used to settle debts that are currently engulfing the petitioners with Sheriffs, who are already hovering around ready to attach their assets.
The petitioners, despite the party intervention, have every right to worry. “This is so because ‘the deadline for this initiative (P10, 000 per constituency) is the end of the first quarter of this year (2021),” a period in which the sheriffs would have long auctioned the properties.
President of the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Duma Boko’s alliance with former President Lt Gen Ian Khama continues to unsettle some quarters within the opposition collective, who believe the duo, if not managed, will once again result in an unsuccessful bid for government in 2024.
While Khama has denied that he has undeclared preference to have Boko remaining as leader of UDC, many believe that the two have a common programme, while other opposition leaders remain on the side-lines.