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Govt wants to seize all of Seretse’s property

The High Court will soon listen to heated arguments in the multimillion money laundering scandal in which the Government is seeking an order to possess permanently Bakang Seretse’s properties and credit account balances.

In the case, Bakang, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang were alleged to have between September, 05, 2017 and November, 27, 2017 in Gaborone, received over P320 million stolen from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF).  The case also implicates the who’s who of this country.

Only a month after High Court Judge Godfrey Radijeng granted the Government an application to freeze Bakang’s properties and credit account balances pending the finalisation of the saga, the Government has approached the court again, now demanding forfeiture of the said assets. The application is dated January 23, 2018.

Bakang’s attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae is however challenging the application. He is of the view that though it was not in dispute that the P69 million belonged to Government, Government intended to rob his client of his own properties and assets. Things started taking a nasty turn in December 13, 2017 when the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) applied for an ex parte application against Seretse’s properties and credit account balances, and was granted the application. Seretse had later in December 28, through his attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae approached the court on urgency and applied for the order to be reversed. But he was dismissed with costs in January 12, 2018.

THE WHO’S WHO

Since the case was registered before the courts last year, there has been a mention of names of several people in high positions in the public sector though they never appeared before the court to join their alleged co-accused. Ngakaage has on the past mentions decried that the prosecution was chasing after small fish while the big fish walk free men.

This has now become more like a slogan in the courts of this country that the prosecution always runs after the nobody’s and let alone the big men who rob the nation of billions of pulas. The names that are always heard in the courts through the bar are the DIS boss, Isaac Kgosi, Minister of Minerals and Energy, Sadique Kebonang and permanent secretary in the ministry Dr Obakeng. Ngakaagae has challenged the DPP to bring them to book.

His argument has always been that Kgosi and Dr Obakeng who were authorising the transactions have not been charged or accused. He said the deal was a ministerial issue which involved people at the top. He noted that his clients were just working on instructions. He averred that if there was misappropriation of such funds then Kgosi, Dr Obakeng and the portfolio Minister Kebonang would have been charged alongside his clients. “Kgosi has paid P118 million to a company in Israel, and DPP is just running away from this reality.”

THE ASSETS IN QUESTION

The list of bank accounts and assets
All the following listed properties and credit account balances namely:-

Positive balance of BWP69, 734, 260. 00 standing to the credit of Call Account number 0002504001499 held by Khulaco (Proprietary) Limited with Capital Bank Limited as at 30 November 2017;

Positive balance of BWP24, 953, 63 standing to the credit of Current Account number 0002704015955 held by Khulaco (Proprietary) Limited as at 30 November 2017;

The amount of BWP118, 945, 045.70 telegraphically transferred on 21 November to Dignia System Limited a company situate at 9 Shenkar St Herzliya in Israel being holders of Account No. 528379 with Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Limited Bank in Israel;

Positive balance of BWP10, 881,199.64 standing to the credit of Call Account number 0002504001550 held by M&B Properties (Proprietary) Limited with Capital Bank Limited as 30 November 2017;

Positive balance of BWP 199, 971. 00 standing to the credit of Current Account number 0002704016860 held by M&B Properties (Proprietary) Limited with Capital Bank Limited as at 30 November 2017, whose registered office is 1st Floor, Plot 8881, African Mall, Gaborone. M&B Properties (Proprietary) Limited is the interested person in this property.

Positive balance of BWP162, 000. 00 standing to the credit Account 62415126417 held by Outer Limit (Proprietary) Limited with First National Bank Botswana Limited;

Positive balance of BWP57,186. 15 standing to the credit of Current Account number 1509505 held by STM Connections (Proprietary) Limited formerly known as STM Holdings (Proprietary) Limited with Barclays Bank Botswana Limited as at 24 November 2017;

Positive balance of BWP76, 186. 15 standing to the credit of Current Account number 1028225 held by Sandune International (Proprietary) Limited with Barclays Bank Botswana Limited as at 27 November 2017;

Positive balance of BWP750, 000. 00 standing to the credit account number 62655842790 held by Leomog Investment (Pty) Ltd with First National Bank Botswana Limited;

Positive balance of BWP430, 000. 00 standing to the credit account number 62088477528 held by Bakang Seretse with First National Bank Limited;

Positive balance of BWP384, 600. 30 standing to the credit Account number 6236672300099 held by Bakang Seretse with First National Bank Botswana Limited;

Property being lease area No. 3338- KO bought for the sum of BWP 2, 850, 000. 00 passed on the 25 October 2017 in favour of Raging Bull (Proprietary) Limited held under Notarial Deed Cession No. MA901/2017;


Property being a Unit consisting of Section No. 17, iTowers Scheme bought bought for the sum of BWP2,400,000. 00 passed on the 3 November 2017 in favour of raging Bull (Proprietary) Limited held under Deed of Sectional Transfer No. ST 307/ 2017;

Property being a Parking Bay P125, iTowers Scheme bought together Plot 54368 iTowers passed on the 3 November 2017 in favour of Raging Bull (Proprietary) Limited held under Notarial Deed of Cession of Real Right: Exclusive Use Areas CRR 161/ 2017;

Property being Townhouse Unit D4 Bemcoville, Sectional title scheme on Lot 75448, Gaborone bought for the sum of BWP1, 284, 800. 00 stiill held under Certificate of Consolidated Title No. 747/2015 in favour of Mwinda Alley (Proprietary) Limited;

Mercedes Benz GLC 250, Station Wagon, B 693 BFI, Chasis No. WDC2539462F280030, Engine No. 27492031092897 registered in the names of Kelebogile Ngwenya;

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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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