Mr Jian Liu the founder of Sunshine Construction is counting heavy losses after the now fired General Manager, Accountant, Cashier and Site Foreman who are also related to the business owner (Liu) ran intricate networks of fraud that range from registering more than half a dozen companies masquerading as suppliers / subcontractors during their employ at the company, creating false invoices and forging delivery for projects that drained millions of pula from the business for money laundering and tax evasion purposes records show.
Former GM named Li Yong (39) is the husband of Liu’s niece named Liu Linlin (38) who was the accountant, former cashier Zhu Peng (32) is his nephew, and Li Pizeng (50) is uncle to Li Yong. “Niece and her husband came to join the company in 2007. She was the closest thing to family to me. Having worked with her and her husband for three years I trusted them and left the operations of the business under their care from 2010 when I relocated to Canada.
I left signed cheque book leaves, letterheads with my signature in pursuit of ease of operations of the business in my absence. I provided them my house, cars for them to use, food for free and all of their expenses at my cost because they are family. Little did I know that I was opening myself to a brood of vipers,” says Mr Liu.
The free fall in operations saw an increase in companies registered under Mr Liu’s niece and husband Liu Lin Lin and Li Yong (respectively), his nephew Zhu Peng and Li Pizeng uncle to Li Yong who were in charge of the business. Records indicate that Goldfield Investments Pty LTD owned by Li Yong and Liu Lin made 17 fraudulent claims, whilst Material Masters owned by Zhu Peng made 14 running a tab of millions of pula for projects they never delivered on. In some instances, their friends were used as suppliers for projects at exorbitant costs.
These companies are registered under the said former employees. The Serious Crime Squad division through correspondence with the company has confirmed the investigation of the said crimes in a letter dated 12th November 2019. Registered names for these companies are Goldfield Investments Pty LTD owned by Li Yong and Liu Linlin, registered on the 4th of May 2020, City and Village Pty LTD owned by the same couple registered on the 30th of August 2012, Golden Hawk (Autoemo Motor) Pty LTD owned by Zhu Peng registered on the 14th of July 2014, Material Masters owned by Zhu Peng registered on the 9th of December 2014, Cherish Holding Pty LTD owned by Li Yong and his friend registered 18th September 2015, Paradise Melody Investment Pty LTD owned by Li Yong and Liu Linlin registered in 2018 which was being operated under Sunshine offices selling pianos.
“They forged invoices, forged signatures, forged delivery of projects, used friends’ companies as suppliers to drain the business. They even created a fake VAT Number for one of the companies. They opened many accounts under their companies and personal names for money laundering and tax evasion purposes.
When they realised that their actions will have consequences, they reported the business to BURS and made false media claims about our business and processes from the mess they created. We are pleased that all evidence is available to prove and demonstrate the truth., We have submitted all the forged documents, fake projects, fraud that almost crippled our business and all the criminal activities that took place under their watch. The CID is investigating them for all this and BURS is aware and so is Immigration,” notes Liu.
Sunshine Construction applied to cancel the work and residents permits under Sunshine of the said employees as advised by their lawyer and required by law for residents. A major scam of applying for permanent residence using the company’s credentials was foiled before it began. “We await the outcome. We are pleased for the support we got from our business constituents and authorities. We are glad with the progress made. In no time we will know the truth and the sun will shine again,” concluded the MD.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).