The former Director of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo has hinted that it may be just a matter of time before the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Chief, Isaac Kgosi is brought to book.
As the founder of DCEC having served at the corruption busting agency from 1997 to 2009, Katlholo led the marathon and high profile investigation on the late former Debswana Managing Director and political kingpin Louis Nchindo. “The Setlhowa land scandal involving Louis Nchindo, his son Garvas, and Matome and Sesinyi was a mountain to climb but it eventually saw the light of day,” he said, adding that the embattled DIS Chief may also face the music at some point.
Nchindo was involved in corruption scandal relating to acquiring a large chunk of land throughout Botswana, which included in Gaborone – for purposes of tourism development. He was said to have corrupted public officials to acquiring the land and ended up facing 32 charges together with his son Garvas, and other former Debswana employees. The charges emanated from his (Nchindo) time while he was at DeBeers and Debswana and the matter was thoroughly investigated by Katlholo under the DCEC and he was tried and charged for the crimes.
When speaking in an exclusive interview with WeekendPost this week, Katlholo highlighted that he would not comment much on the matter as he may prejudice the case but emphasised that Bakang Seretse, who is facing money laundering charges involving more than 250 million pula maybe has a point in calling for all implicated parties to be tried in the same breadth.
“I understand the frustration coming from Bakang Seretse and his lawyer Kgosi Ngakaagae, generally there are far too many stories implicating the incumbent DIS General from way back but are not thoroughly investigated and maybe tried at the court of law to either convict him or clear him,” he highlighted. He continued: “so, he (Seretse) has a point. You must establish the principal. You see there can never be any money laundering without the principal offence because the money laundering offence is instigated on the principal offence.”
The former DCEC Director went on to state that he however believed that the organisation is working around the clock to bring everyone including the DIS Director to book if there is sufficient evidence that warrants so. “Just give them a chance, it is their own strategy. As of now they are looking at the facts before them. So maybe it is too early to start condemning them.” Katlholo stressed that cases of corruption by their nature take a lot of time, maybe up to 5 to 7 years and gave an example of the Nchindo case that he says took five years to crack.
Of corruption, curse and political interference
Katlholo further told this publication that corruption by its nature has something known as public opprobrium which is like a curse; that is when you approach people to ask them questions as DCEC but they are unwilling to open up and so sometimes when you are involved in an investigation, you go through those difficult challenges affecting your investigation negatively.
He added “again, I do not know whether there is political interference or not. But it is in the nature that sometimes political interference is inevitable but I wouldn’t say there is political interference in the Bakang Seretse case but it is inevitable.” According to the corruption expert, this is precisely due to the fact that you are dealing with high profile people having a certain reputation to protect. So he advises that in such cases, there is need for political will because a country and its leadership has respectful division of labour and therefore what the DCEC, DIS and DPP are separately doing in their own right ought to be respected.
Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, attorney representing Seretse in his money laundering case recently turned the gun on the corruption busting agency, dismissing it as biased and hopeless. The attorney asserted that “the real question is we are questioning power and because of that we are being harassed. That’s the trouble here. Our clients are being harassed simply because they demand answers as to why some people are not being charged when they are charged when those people are the owners of what they are alleged to be charged with or to have committed.”
The attorney said the DCEC only went after the small fish, people accused of stealing two hundred pula or having small traffic fines “and then bang two hundred and fifty million pula gone and what do you do? You can’t look at power in the eye and say you should account.”
DIS intimidating DCEC?
According to the anti-corruption Specialist, he does not know the relationship between DIS and DCEC but he does not see any reason why the DCEC should be afraid of DIS and vice versa as they both have their own mandates. “In a law enforcement environment, you don’t investigate someone not at the behest of anyone but at the behest of the law. It is the law that says you go and investigate. On that account there is no reason why you should therefore be fearful of anyone or favour anyone. Because you are guided by the law, it’s a basic concept of the rule of law.”
If there is corruption, he said, it should be investigated and if there is proof that implicates some people they should be dragged to court like anyone else. “There is no reason why the DIS Director or anyone should be feared. The DCEC is constitutionally established and it has the backing of the statutes, unless if they were operating on a vacuum then one would understand.”
Honours only on DPP to prosecute
He also stressed that the DCEC doesn’t prosecute so if they investigate a matter and put the case before the DPP then the prosecution honour is therefore on DPP and not DCEC. Meanwhile, last year in June, the then DCEC Director Rose Seretse testified before a Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) that the docket in which they were investigating Kgosi for money laundering and possible corruption were completed. She said it had been passed to DPP for the next course of action. However, to date, nothing has been heard of the case as the DPP has yet to act on it.
The DPP however contradicted the statement saying the investigations were still ongoing and that they had referred the docket back to DCEC. In a separate savingram, Kgosi was also at some point said to be implicated in spying on and intimidating the DCEC unit investigating him over corruption allegations, an allegation which he however denied.
In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).
The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.
Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.
Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.
The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.
This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).
The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.
The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.
In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.
Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.
Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.
“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.
Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.
“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.
The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.
UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.
Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.
Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.
Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”
Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.
FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS
With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.
BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.
BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.
It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.
Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”
It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.
At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.
Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.
BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.
The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.
By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.
In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.
“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.
“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.
The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.
All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.
“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.
Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.
Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.
COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE
As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.
“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.
The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.
“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.
The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.
“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.