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Friday, 19 April 2024

State negotiates with Isaac Kgosi

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In an unexpected turn of events former spy Chief Col Isaac Kgosi is now enjoying the bargaining power as the State is begging him not to proceed with his intended lawsuit that has the potential to grossly embarrass government.   

WeekendPost has established that Kgosi is on a mission to take the State to the cleaners after suffering humiliation at the hands of the Government on several occasions, amongst which was his unceremonious removal from office, his arrest at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKI), as well as being accused of financing terrorism. Kgosi, together with President Lt Gen Khama were accused or stand accused of having instructed Bank of Botswana, to open three offshore accounts, of which P100 billion was looted via the bank accounts.

Information gathered by this publication indicates that Kgosi has partnered with all those who were or are implicated in the matter; Khama, South African business woman Bridgette Motsepe, ABSA, Nedbank, Standard Bank to sue the Botswana Government. In desperate attempts to stop Kgosi and clean Brig Peter Magosi’s mess, it is alleged that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has assigned a team led by former army Commander and Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) Central Committee member, Lt Gen Tebogo Masire to lure Kgosi in for an out of court settlement.

The proposed deal is believed to be involving a huge amount of money. Kgosi has however declined to discuss matter relating to the looming lawsuit stating that, “it is too soon to discuss that case.” Sources close to this publication have revealed that Kgosi is not bending to the team’s request and is determined to clear his name. WeekendPost has established that Kgosi feels that the State has put him through a lot, and damaged his reputation in the process.

It is alleged that cases lodged against Kgosi are outlandish as the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) together with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) seem not to have tangible evidence against him. Towards the end of 2019, one Welheminah Maswabi code name ‘Butterfly’, a DIS agent was charged with financing terrorism, possession of unexplained property and false declaration of passports.

She was accused of transferring P29 million to the former spy chief shortly after he made remarks that he would topple the government. Prior to Maswabi’s case, Kgosi was arrested in what was dubbed as the “Hollywood style” by the current Director General, Magosi, at Sir Seretse Khama International airport (SSKI) after his arrival from a trip to Asia and the Middle East.

It was alleged that Kgosi was arrested in connection with alleged tax evasion. It was after his arrest that the DIS, Botswana Police Service (BPS) and Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) conducted searches at Kgosi’s house at Phakalane Estates. In Maswabi’s case, through her attorneys Uyapo Ndadi and Unoda Mack, managed to discover some damning evidence against the State.  

It turned out after a tussle in court that one investigating officer at the DCEC, Jack Hubona  together with Magosi were involved in fabricating and manufacturing evidence to frame Maswabi and those who were implicated in the matter, Kgosi being amongst them. In the case against ‘Butterfly’, which implicated Kgosi and other prominent persons, Khama then disposed an affidavit in support of Maswabi rubbishing the State’s case and registering a “come get me” attitude.

South African banks, Nedbank and Absa, have also vehemently criticised the State’s evidence against Maswabi, in a case where she is alleged to be responsible for P4.2 billion that went missing at Bank of Botswana. The State had also brought before court laden evidence against the accused after the court was told that the accused had an enormous sum of P360 million in her different personal accounts.

Maswabi- in her personal capacity was also allegedly accused as one of the signatories of Blue Files (PTY) Ltd.’s Royal Bank of Scotland, a bank account held in S.A facilitated the commission of an act of terrorism by transferring an amount of 950000. 00 American Dollars to Isaac Seabelo Kgosi, who earlier this year upon his arrest threatened to commit acts of terror against Botswana.

The State had also brought before courts bank statements that showed how the money was transferred from on offshore account to another.

They further sought the court to be given time to seek legal assistance for admissible evidence which will be used during trial.
This publication is in possession of affidavits from the alleged banks denying any knowledge or trace of the alleged bank accounts.

In their opposing affidavit, Nedbank stated that “the opposing affidavit references accounts in the names of Blue Files (Pty) Ltd and Fire Flies (Pty) Ltd, are non-existent accounts. After conducting a search on our Nedbank systems, we have been unable to find any accounts in those names, nor any accounts with the mentioned account numbers.” 

Absa Bank also denied having any record of any account with designated account numbers nor account names. They further inquired that the document obtained by the State as evidence does not appear as Absa generated document.
 One of the investigators who had been engaged by Maswabi’s legal representatives, Johaan Minaar, also revealed in a report possessed by this publication, that the emails used by the State as evidence against the accused are also fraudulent, based on the vast differences between the attached email and those which are relied upon by the High Court.

The report alleged that the messages attached as evidence by the State appear to be fraudulent, as they could very easily have been produced by a word processor such as Microsoft Word, in order to provide veneer of authenticity to those emails which are relied on by the High Court.

The investigation company pointed out that unless the original electronic version of the email messages set out as annexures to the High Court application can be produced and authenticated, the annexures have no evidentiary values presented as they are presented to the relevant Tribunal in isolation as the original source data/document is not available for verification, further scrutiny and examination.

Upon establishing whether or not Royal Bank Scotland, Blue Files Inc. and Fire Flies were South African registered companies, the investigating team could not positively verify the entities.

They however stated that they conducted searches on two public registries, namely the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in South Africa and Dun & Bradstreet (a similar registry in Botswana) and the search strings submitted to conduct such queries were as follows; Royal Bank, Blue File and Fire File. In an interview with this publication Kgosi’s lawyer, Mack explained that Kgosi has not been approached yet concerning the matter.   He stated that they have met a couple of times but this specific matter had not been raised.

 “But anything is possible, any possible human being would understand that what the State did to Kgosi and even the former President [Ian Khama] was inhumane,” Mack said.  “If he was to file a lawsuit it would be totally understandable. All the DPP keeps on saying before courts is investigations are ongoing. What investigations? To do what?” 


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Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.

 

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