Connect with us
Advertisement

Drug trade fuelled by top Gov’t officials

Illicit drugs are on the loose in Botswana, fresh information turned up by WeekendPost has revealed. Most of the drugs are smuggled into Botswana from neighbouring countries through un-gazetted areas, including through the border where there is a defective routine search and check-ups.

There are no electronic x-ray machines or scans at the border or points of entry to roughly detect drugs and law enforcers rely only on “intelligence”, this publication has learnt. This publication has further turned up information to the effect that a high number of citizens of Botswana are recorded as involved in this cross border drug smuggling than foreigners. Point of entry check-ups are seen as flawed and an uncomplicated freeway by drug lords who hide the illegal substances in strategic car parts, restaurants food packs boxes, credulous body parts like armpits, beneath private parts including out rightly swallowing them.

They would later excrete them through the anal passage. According to highly placed sources in the fight for substance abuse and rehabilitation, the most smuggled drug used by clients remains Marijuana (dagga) followed by Methcathinone which is known as CAT, then crack cocaine (madaena), and cocaine, including others like Heroin. Botswana Police Service (BPS) Director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Busang Lesola has raised the red flag concerning drug usage in Botswana. He told this publication that illegal drug use and trade is of serious concern in Botswana and they (CID) are doing everything within their power to address it.

The sentiment was also echoed by Officer Commanding at Narcotics, Fauna and Flora Investigations (NFFI), Detective Senior Superintendent Miriam Kilano who also confirmed to WeekendPost in an interview that they have many cases in relation to the said drugs which regrettably find their way into the country and are utilized by citizens and foreigners. She described the state of affairs as “seriously of concern” to her department and the public in general. Investigations by this publication have uncovered that cocaine can be categorized as the most expensive with a customer base cutting across all socio-economic groups – particularly people with financial power.

The illegal drug is in powder form and costs around BWP 300 per sachet which its effect lasts for almost a month. More investigations by this publication also reveal that although drug use cuts across the education sector, both public and private schools, it is however said to be very rampant at Private Schools. It is understood that dealers may be tapping on the students’ financial significance as a result of their lucrative pocket money as mostly are from well off families.

Recently, the son of Minister of Defence, Justice and Security, Shaw Kgathi, together with three alleged crime partners were nabbed with drugs in their possession at a road block in Pitsane en-route to Gaborone from South Africa. On the matter, Kgathi (23) is charged with Tumisang Tlhalefang (24), Kgosietsile Geoffrey Dihutso (23) and Alphius Raditladi (25). The quartet underwent BPS routine search at a road block and were caught with pants down in possession of “11 white blocks packaged in Romany cream biscuits box and thirty pieces contained in a packet of Simba chips suspected to be methacatinone.”

They are due to appear in court on December 6 to face the charges of “unlawful possession of habit forming drugs.” When WeekendPost asked why the drug trade and usage is continuing whilst the hotspots and trade spots are well known by the community and some CID operatives, the CID official was at pains to answer and almost fell short of critiquing the law governing drugs saying it has its own limitations when it comes to arresting the situation.

Information turned up indicates that the lucrative market for the drugs and some of the hotspots drug infested places in Gaborone are said to be the suburban area Phakalane, Phase 2, Maruapula and Tlokweng just to mention a few. In terms of the said places, BPS, CID Officer in Charge, Petrus Nkgetse also confirmed in his interaction with the WeekendPost at CID headquarters, NFFI department in Gaborone. He said that the current law does not speak to those who have smoked the illegal drugs ‘per se’ but only provides that they can only have a case against drug users once they catch them red handed and ‘in possession of such illegal drugs’.

Prior, the police utilized the Drugs and Related Substance Act which was later reviewed to the current one named Medicine and related Substance Act. The new Act, the police say, carries more hefty penalties for perpetrators than the previous. In terms of the new Act and other interventions the CID officials were adamant that the situation is under control as far as they are concerned. Meanwhile, a non- governmental organisation that provides substance abuse education, prevention, and rehabilitation services to the general public, Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (BOSASNet) said it was equally concerned about the rampant drug use and abuse.

“Drugs, yes, it’s now a very serious problem in Botswana, it’s now rampant,” the oganisation through its Clinical Programs Manger, Lorato Koosaletse told this publication. According to Koosaletse, more of illegal drugs and substances are emerging and the country cannot keep up with the rise. She gave an example of concoction of drugs said to be on the rampage where students and other drug users release faeces, dry them and later mix them with dagga and inhale.

The BOSANET official stressed that students are involved in unlawful drug use “as early as 12 years” and others “old as 60 years” as well as “the rich and the poor” which make part of their client base for rehabilitation. As causes of substance abuse, Koosaletse said most people get into drugs for various reasons such as a public expectation; as a result of peer pressure; for entertainment; and others do drugs out of curiosity, ending up in addiction, among others. The BOSASNet executive also called for “more stricter and punitive laws; more rehabilitation centres or facilities where people can easily get help.”

According to official statistics of a testing and rehabilitation centre, Elite Life Coaching, there cases of a 15 years old female and a 16 years old male who tested positive for crack cocaine as at January 2017. 52 people of all genders also tested positive for marijuana, 42 for crack cocaine, 31 for CAT and 28 for cocaine between April 2015 and January 2017 in Gaborone.

Habit forming Dagga (Marijuana):

According to official statistics by BPS CID, NFFI department, in 2017 between January and March, they arrested 172 citizens and 11 non citizens in connection with 111 cases of 204.6945 kg of Dagga possession. In 2016, there were 617 cases recorded of dagga weighing 1053.422kg from 871 Batswana and 44 non citizens. 652 cases of Dagga possession were also recorded in 2015 weighing 253.6322 kg and 732 citizens and 45 non citizens were arrested to the cases. There were 639 cases of dagga possession also in 2014 and 837 Batswana as well as 33 foreigners were arrested. The said dagga weighed 359.173 kg.   

Marijuana (DAGGA) is a green or grey mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. The drug contains a number of substances called cannabinoids and it is these cannabinoids that affect the brain, heart and lungs.
It is smoked in the form of hand-rolled cigarettes or in a pipe. Signs of marijuana abuse are frequently visible in users: red, blurry, bloodshot eyes; constant, mucus-filled cough; rapid heartbeat; hunger, referred to as munchies; dry mouth; anxiety, paranoia, or fear; poor memory; poor coordination.

The recreational Methcathinone (CAT):

Sometimes called “cat” or “jeff” or “catnip” or “intash” is used as a recreational drug due to its potent stimulant and euphoric effects and is considered to be addictive, with both physical and psychological withdrawal occurring if its use is discontinued after prolonged or high-dosage administration.It is usually snorted, but can be smoked, injected, or taken orally; and effects include; feelings of euphoria; Increased alertness; Slurred speech; Shaking of the limbs; Increased heart rate; Risk of blood clots on the brain, heart attacks or strokes; Headaches or Migraine attacks; Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or pains in the stomach; Increased empathy and sense of communication; Both decreased and increased sexual function and desire; Bruxism. The effects of methcathinone usually last from four to six hours.

BPS CID, NFFI statistics illustrate that in 2017 from January to March, only 10 cases were recorded in relation to 106.1g of CAT. 14 citizens and 2 expatriates were arrested. In 2016, there was 1560.8273g of CAT confiscated from 40 Batswana and 2 foreigners emanating from the 24 cases recorded. CAT weighing 130.8989g was confiscated from 14 cases involving 25 Batswana and 2 non citizens in 2015. Only 1 case was recorded in 2014 involving 1 citizen in possession of CAT weighing 0.05g.
The addictive Cocaine:

In terms of cocaine, official statistics from CID, NFFI indicate that in the first quarter of 2017, 38 g of the drug was confiscated from 5 Batswana and 4 foreigners in which there were 4 cases. The Cocaine weighed 38g. In 2016, there were 21 cases of 23 Batswana and 3 expatriates found in possession of 4313.7216 g of cocaine. Before that, in 2015, 18 cases were recorded of cocaine weighing 188.5 g involving 22 citizens and 5 non citizens. 19 Batswana where arrested in 2014 in connection to 12 cases of cocaine weighing 146. 915g. Cocaine is an addictive drug derived from coca or prepared synthetically, used as an illegal stimulant and sometimes medicinally as a local anaesthetic.

Cocaine short term effects include; Loss of appetite; Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature; Contracted blood vessels; Increased rate of breathing; Dilated pupils; Disturbed sleep pattern; Nausea; Hyperstimulation; Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior; Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability; Tactile hallucination that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin; Intense euphoria; Anxiety and paranoia; Depression; Intense drug craving; Panic and psychosis; Convulsions, seizures and sudden death from high doses (even one time); Cocaine causes heart, kidney, brain and lung damage.

Cocaine Long-term effects include: Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain; High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death; Liver, kidney and lung damage; Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed; Respiratory failure if smoked; Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected; Malnutrition, weight loss; Severe tooth decay; Auditory and tactile hallucinations; Sexual problems, reproductive damage and infertility (for both men and women); Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion; Irritability and mood disturbances; Increased frequency of risky behavior; Delirium or psychosis; Severe depression; Tolerance and addiction (even after just one use).

Continue Reading

News

 Zakhem vindicated

15th September 2021
Zakhem

Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership appears to be bowing down to Nicolas Zakhem’s football pressure. The development comes to the open roughly 24 hours after the Gaborone United director publicly labelled Maclean Letshwiti and his committee failures for deciding to chop five premier league clubs under the pretext of club licensing disqualification.

As early as Wednesday noon, the BFA emergency committee met with one agenda item to discuss the possibility of reinstating the clubs. This publication gathers that the committee saw it fit to pardon the five clubs without entertaining a second thought. The committee even invited the clubs to the meeting, sources say.

Late last month, the five teams were disqualified from playing in the premier league, pending the appeal outcome. The teams are Notwane, Extension Gunners, BR Highlanders, Mogoditshane Fighters, together with Gilport Lions. The immediate decision by BFA follows what Zakhem had said and advised that it was wrong to chop clubs given the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Unbeknownst to BFA leadership, observers stress that Zakhem exerted public pressure and influenced them to change tone without asking. At the meeting, BFA president Maclean Letshwiti, his vices, Marshlow Motlogelwa and Masego Ntshingane, Aryl Ralebala, the Botswana Football League (BFL) chairman, together with Alec Fela, an ordinary member in the now stubborn NEC.

However, the reactive move by the association to reinstate the clubs is highly welcomed in certain quarters, but it also appears to have left a permanent scar, especially at BFL. As things stand, the general feeling on the ground is to oust chairman Ralebala for failing to defend these clubs before the eyes of President Letshwiti.

This publication has intercepted an ongoing petition to unseat Ralebala and his deputies from the BFL board. Strange enough, the signed petition has thus far attracted clubs with household influence in the league itself. GU, Township Rollers, Notwane, Extension Gunners, Police XI are some clubs that have already appended their signatures to have Ralebala removed.

The big clubs are believed to fighting for principle and demand fair governance at BFL. The reality is that these clubs command a large following, and sponsors can always have a say based on their presence.

When approached for clarity, Ralebala said he could not comment on allegations or issues that lack substance. He concedes that he has heard about the rolling petition but is yet to lay his eyes on it.
“I have heard about the petition, but I don’t know where it is coming from. I think it is best you ask those who have signed it. My focus is to commence the league and make sure everything is on point,” said Ralebala.

Football observers state that Ralebala, together with Letshwiti, are now faced with a dilemma. Reports coming from Lekidi Football Centre, although yet to be fabricated, are that the big guns lead others to form a parallel structure where they will play on their league. The clubs are angry at their chairman for taking many of the instructions from the BFA boss, and already a general melee is gathering traction that the two must resign as football has lost direction.

Zakhem says, although he supported Letshwiti, he has a sense of duty to stand for the truth. “I knew I supported Letshwiti and his troops, but you see, these guys have lost direction. I have long advised them that chopping clubs like this will cause confusion and delay progress, but they cannot listen. Letshwiti gave BFL autonomy, but I do not know why he is still interfering,” Zakhem said.

Continue Reading

News

The untold brighter side of the P100bn case fall

15th September 2021
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi

You may, by now, have heard about the dark side of the high profile P100 billion case, but wait, there is also the brighter side. Staff Writer AUBREY LUTE explores the positives accruing from the fall of the country’s biggest financial ‘scam-dal’.

A chance to fix the country’s financial record

They have not publicly been saying it, but the state agencies and the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, have been at pains to explain and rationalise how an amount almost equal to the country’s GPD left the central bank.

Many insiders attributed the country‘s troubled financial status to the case, including the grey-listing, non-compliance and identified deficiencies, some of which were hitting citizens around the globe. Botswana was in 2018 taken aback by FATF news that the country has been listed alongside countries that do not comply with (AML/CFT). The European Union Commission later flagged Botswana in March 2019 for lacking strategic deficiencies in AML/CFT regulations.

A chance to restore the dignity of the law enforcement arms

The case, without a doubt, was a distraction object on the law enforcement agencies, which spent a chunk of their time bickering and finger-pointing. A leaked audio recording exposing the explosive meeting of the law enforcement arms of government, being the Intelligence Services, Corruption and Economic Crimes agency, and the Prosecutions division summed it all.

The case presented a monumental crisis threatening the core of their being. Following these developments, the Presidency, clearly under the influence of a tripartite member, took a spine-chilling decision to disband the DCEC, a move that was saved by the organisation’s founding director- Tymon Katlholo’s bold protest.

The DPP, the Police, and the DCEC staff were used in the process to carry out bizarre instructions, some of which left the state with an egg on its face. Mistrust and backstabbing were the order of the day within the law enforcement agencies, and the P100 billion case was to blame. “Some badly wanted the plot executed while the other side badly wanted it to end to restore sanity,” an insider says.

The source further adds that “if the case did not end soon, it was going to end a lot of people’s relationships and careers because those who refused to carry the insane instructions were seen as sympathisers to former President Ian Khama.” With the case having fallen, these agencies can reflect, reconcile and go back to work.

A chance to fix diplomatic relations…

It was not only South Africa that was accused of Sabotaging Botswana’s prosecutorial goal. The state also accused several countries of refusing or delaying to assist in the process. Of all the nations, only South Africa has decided to take Botswana to task, perhaps on its proximity to Botswana. Others long ignored Botswana’s requests for assistance to the frustration of former DPP deputy director who repeatedly told the courts that they were struggling to get responses from the international community. With the case having fallen, Botswana may get a chance to face her actions, apologise and rectify the promise that lessons have been learnt.

Pressure off the shoulders of those who have to account…

The case did not only affect the law enforcement agencies. All the stakeholders were put in the spotlight to provide answers. The first to bolt out of the circle was the central bank, Moses Pelaelo, who, like DCEC director-general, long declared the case a scam. He told the world that his books were in order and that no money was missing risking his high-paying job.

According to insiders, his superiors, the then Minister of Finance and Development Planning – Dr Matsheka and his subordinate, Dr Wildfred Mandlebe, were only whispering, without success, to the Gods that there is no money missing.

So concerned and under pressure was Dr Sethibe- then the head of the Financial Intelligence Agency- who, like his Ministry supervisors, was engaging in silent screams to warn the powers that be, all in vain. He later jumped the ship to his former employer, the University of Botswana, allegedly to protect his name and career.

At the time of the fall of the case, the DIS and the DPP were at advanced plans to higher American to come and probe the Bank of Botswana’s servers in a move that bankers feared could compromise them further.

The case was bleeding the country’s coffers…

Had it not ended, the case was likely to end up ‘genuinely’ costing the country P100 billion Pula duo to its complexity and challenges. Insiders say sources who had sold the law enforcement agencies some falsified documents were paid handsomely.

Moreover, investigations were costly as they involved the international community and frequent travelling. “We are told there was also motivation for some officers to act abysmally and out of their way,” an insider said.

Lessons leant for public officers…

Public officers are often duty-bound to obey superiors instructions, no matter how irrational. The case was an eye-opener to many public officers that principle pays in the discharge of one’s duty at all times. The professional careers of the P100 billion case conspirators are currently in shambles. And as expected, the influencers, if at all there any, are nowhere to be seen.

Continue Reading

News

Botswana could exit FATF “greylisting” in October 

15th September 2021
President Dr Masisi & Minister of Finance and Economic Development Peggy Serame

Botswana remains on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the “black list” of the European Union, a status quo that highlights the country as one of the high-risk jurisdictions to deal with money.

The far-reaching implications of these listings is a compromised Foreign Direct Investment drive for Botswana. In particular, these listings mean investors now have to exercise some caution and restrain when thinking about putting their money in Botswana. On Tuesday, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Peggy Serame said that Botswana could see itself out of the “undesirable listing” by October this year.

Serame called for united and concerted efforts towards liberating Botswana out of this financial noncompliance tag. She said the delisting could be archived by concerted efforts from all stakeholders: players in the financial services sector, non-financial services businesses, regulators, and every individual who deals with transactions.

Botswana is a founding member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). This regional body subscribes to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation.

One of the membership obligations to ESAAMLG is for Botswana to be peer-reviewed by the other Member States and other international bodies like the World Bank, IMF or FATF.
The most recent assessment for Botswana to gauge compliance with the FATF standards was conducted by ESAAMLG in 2016 and culminated with publishing the Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) in 2017.

Following the discussion and adoption by the Task Force and approval of the MER by the Council of Ministers, the country was placed under enhanced follow-up.  This led to a one (1) year observation period in which the country was expected to improve its technical compliance (legislative framework) by correcting the deficiencies identified in the MER.

After one year, in October 2018, the Task Force decided that the country was not taking sufficient steps to implement the recommendations made by the assessors in the MER.  The Task Force recommended that Botswana be referred to the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) for monitoring and potential listing often referred to as the ‘FATF greylisting”.

Following the FATF greylisting, the EU placed Botswana on its list of high-risk third countries, often referred to as the ‘black list.’ In 2018, Botswana and FATF agreed to an Action Plan that had six items with several timelines. In terms of Risk and coordination, Botswana was told to develop and implement a risk-based comprehensive national AML/CFT strategy, assess the risks associated with legal persons, legal arrangements, and NPOs, and operationalize the modernized company registry to obtain and maintain essential information and Ultimate Beneficial Ownership information.

Botswana was further advised to enhance the capacity of the supervisory staff, including by developing risk-based supervision manuals and providing adequate training, implement risk-based AML/CFT supervision and impose sanctions against violations.

Furthermore, Botswana was instructed to improve analysis and dissemination of financial intelligence by the Financial Intelligence Unit, including operationalizing an online Suspicious Transactions Report filing platform and prioritizing high-risk predicate crimes, and enhancing the use of financial intelligence among the relevant law enforcement agencies.

Regarding terrorism financing investigation, Botswana was instructed to develop and implement a Counter Financing of Terrorism Strategy, operationalize the Counter-Terrorism Analysis and Fusion Centre, and ensure the Terrorism Financing investigation capacity of the law enforcement agencies.

In 2018, the 11th Parliament passed 25 pieces and, later, six others related to AML/CFT/CFP. At the just ended Parliamentary session of the 12th Parliament, lawmakers passed the Financial Intelligence (Amendment) Act to address the definition of beneficial ownership.

Cabinet approved the National AML/CFT/CFP Strategy of 2019-2024 in October 2019. At the June 2021 FATF Plenary meetings, the FATF made the initial determination that Botswana had substantially addressed the Action Plan and that this warranted an on-site assessment to verify that the implementation of Botswana’s AML/CFT/CFP reforms is in place and is being sustained.
Furthermore, an assessment was to be instituted to check if the necessary political commitment remains to sustain implementation in the future.

Serame said in a televised press briefing that Botswana’s exit from the FATF grey list and the EU black list would be determined by the outcome of the on-site assessment, which will be discussed at the FATF Plenary in October 2021.

She revealed that the Botswana delegation attended the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group 42nd Task Force of Senior Officials meeting from the 26th August to the 6th September 2021, followed by the Council of Ministers on the 7th September 2021.

She told the media that at these meetings, Botswana was commended for making progress in complying with the FATF standards by addressing deficiencies in her AML/CFT/CFP framework.
“We are making all these efforts of complying with the FATF standards so that we guard against our financial system being used for money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing,” she said.

“We are hopeful that at the October 2021 FATF Plenary meetings, the outcome of the on-site visit undertaken by the FATF in August 2021 will bear positive results, leading to Botswana being delisted from the FATF greylisting,” she said. However, Minister Serame called on all stakeholders to support the government to remove Botswana from the greylisting.

“As Government continues its efforts of putting in place the necessary legislative and institutional framework, due diligence must be exercised by all institutions, including the ordinary Motswana, so that no one is found dealing with financiers whose credibility is wanting,” she said.

The minister reiterated that all players in the financial services sector had a role to play: “It is important that where unsolicited funds are offered, the individual or entity so receiving the offer must ensure that the funds being offered are not associated with unlawful acts. If we are not diligent, criminals may use unsuspecting people and entities to launder proceeds of crime.”

She reiterated that the government is committed to doing all within its power to remove the country from the FATF “grey list” and the EU “black list”. However, she noted that to achieve that requires the cooperation and assistance of financial institutions, designated non-financial businesses and professions and individuals to ensure full compliance with AML/CFT/CFP rules and regulations.

“These efforts will not only assist us to be removed from these mentioned lists but are for the benefit of our country to maintain a high standard of financial prudence and an economy which genuine investors can have the confidence to invest in,” Serame explained.

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!