Law Society of Botswana (LSB) has expressed concern at the rate at which foreign nationals are being hired at the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).
Law Society believes that local attorneys should be given first preference. LSB Chairman, Lawrence Lecha told WeekendPost in an interview that this trend is disturbing and needs to be attended to and addressed. “We need to sit with stakeholders concerned in the matter and establish the problem that is why foreigners are preferred over locals at DPP,” he charged.
Fresh information has surfaced this week that the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) is continuously hiring foreign Counsels ahead of qualified citizens to higher positions at the prosecution department. Given the sensitivity and nature of the office of DPP, some local attorneys fear that this move may eventually temper with the national security in the long run.
This publication has established that just recently, in the first week of February to be precise – the DPP hired a foreigner for the position of Principal Prosecution Counsel ahead of equally capable citizens. Although due process of hiring personnel was followed including carrying interviews, the new employee’s appointment increases the number of foreign nationals’ at DPP – a development which does not sit well with some long serving local attorneys at the department.
It is understood that the new recruit adds up to other foreign nationals, hired as Assistant Director of Public and Chief Prosecution Counsel respectively. All have served at the DPP for close to 10 years now.
One lawyer who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told this publication this week that “these are high positions which have a bearing on national security as these foreigners owe allegiance to their own countries.” According to the lawyers, it is not enough that the DPP is headed by one local Leornard Sechele, and, is deputised by Kabo Leinaeng who is also of Botswana origin.
In a separate interview, another resident Counsel told this publication that the foreign appointments at DPP are “alarming and scary.” He added that, “I have come across capable local counsels who are qualified, diligent and committed to take the reins of DPP but are not appointed.”
While some lawyers say they never see the posts advertised, WeekendPost is informed that normally the DPP undertakes interviews for various positions but locals sometimes get beaten by the foreign counsels in terms of, vast experience for example, as is the case with the recent post of Principal Prosecution Counsel.
In making efforts to solicit a comment from Sechele at DPP, this reporter was referred to the Attorney General Public relations Office, which demanded a questionnaire, at the time of going to print.
During the ceremonial opening of the 2015 legal year recently, Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme stated that while the AG generally has the requisite capacity to provide basic legal services to government, it is nevertheless under ever increasing pressure to discharge its mandate within tight resource constraints. “Specifically, AG has insufficient senior lawyers equipped with expertise to meet all the demands it is obliged to service,” Molokomme stated.
However she also admitted in her address that she is aware of perceptions in some quarters of selectivity in so far as the outsourcing of legal and/or consultancy services from private legal firms is concerned. She asserted she had for some time been exploring the manner in which her chambers can systematically procure services from private legal practitioners who are experienced in certain particular practice areas, in the normal course, and not only in emergencies.
Meanwhile there have also been concerns over independence of DPP from the Attorney General (AG). The DPP’s budget is administered by the AG and the authority to spend the budget requires the approval of AG.
However DPP Director Sechele argues in a paper delivered at a Judicial conference in Palapye in 2013 titled ‘The independence of DPP: A case of Botswana’ that notwithstanding DPP dependence on AG, the DPP enjoys functional independence which can be enhanced by a further amendment of the constitution to provide for total separation of the Directorate of Attorney General.
The office of DPP is charged with the prosecution of criminal offences in several criminal jurisdictions in Botswana. The title is used mainly in jurisdictions that are or have been members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.