Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has this week defended their stance on the engagement of the Afrikaaner Afriforum’s Advocate Gerri Nel to represent Botswana Government in the P100 billion high-profile money-laundering and fraud case.
AfriForum is a South African non-governmental organisation focused mainly on the interests of Afrikaners, a sub-group of the country’s white population. The group regards itself as a civil rights organisation that “mobilises” Afrikaners, Afrikaans-speaking people and other minority groups in South Africa and protects their rights. Advocate Gerrie Nel currently leads the AfriForum Private Prosecution Unit.
According to AfriForum, Adv. Nel and Adv. Phyllis Vorster were officially appointed by Adv. Stephen Tiroyakgosi, Botswana’s Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), to represent the Republic of Botswana. Speaking to WeekendPost in an interview on Thursday, DPP’s Director Stephen Tiroyakgosi confirmed engaging Nel and defended the move which has attracted stiff criticism in Botswana from local attorneys, NGO’s, and opposition political parties.
“Yes I can confirm that we have engaged the services of Gerrie Nel and his team,” Tiroyakgosi contended. However, the DPP Director was at pains in trying to extricate and separate Nel from the notorious and infamous Afriforum. “Unfortunately he [Nel] also works for or with Afriforum,” he highlighted while adding that “we have not engaged Afriforum as we don’t believe they provide legal services.”
He continued to justify: “I believe that as a former prosecutor Nel knows the intricacies of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) processes.” According to DPP’s Tiroyakgosi, they “obviously” couldn’t engage local lawyers on the high profile matter as only very few of them, if any are admitted to practice in South Africa. In any event, he continued, “in view of travel restrictions I don’t believe they would have been on the ground to do the work we wanted done.”
When further asked on how much in terms of the legal costs that the Botswana Government will bear, in estimation or actual amount, he said he cannot comment on the charge presently. He told WeekendPost: “I do not wish to discuss the issue of fees at this stage.”
The legal fees inquiry was motivated by the strong believe that Advocate Nel, who became famous for the well-publicised case on Oscar Pistorius, does not come cheap in matters of law and as such will bear heavily to the tax payers. This publication further sought comment on why Nel because he sits on the Afriforum, an organ regarded as representing the narrow interests of white supremacist Afrikaners.
This, some believe is an endorsement on the racial gulf that is currently sweeping across the world through Black Lives Matter, and others, Botswana included. He however reiterated that they engaged Nel on his capabilities and not necessarily Afriforum which is seen as largely racist.
The engagement of Afriforum’s Nel comes at a time when the world all over is entangled with issue of racism after two black citizens in America or African American were brutally (racists charged) killed by the Police in the country. Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi together with his cabinet then publicly associated with America’s Black Lives Matter and in the process exercised a silent moment for the murdered George Floyd and many others who died prior at the hands of the Police in the United States.
The engagement of Afrikaaner’s Afriforum Counsel by Botswana Government also comes at a time when the American Bar Association (ABA) cancelled its planned programme with former apartheid President FW de Klerk, after a flood of objections from, among others, former Truth and Reconciliation commissioners, human rights activists, American academics and the son of slain Cradock Four, anti-apartheid activist Fort Calata.
According to SA’s News24 De Klerk’s conversation about “rule of law, constitutional democracy, minority rights, social change, racism and global security” had been cancelled. Fort Calata’s son, Lukhanyo – who was the first person to write to the ABA and ask it to reconsider its De Klerk invitation – told News24 that “our wish is that organisations around the world will follow the ABA’s lead and give careful consideration before extending an invite to (persons such as) De Klerk to speak on matters that he’s wholly unqualified to opine on.”
Botswana’s DPP primary mandate is the prosecution of criminal cases before all courts of the land, criminal applications and appeals arising from criminal litigation. The primary penal statutes used by the Directorate in criminal prosecution are the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act which gives guidance on general matters of procedure in criminal litigation.
Advocate Nel will facilitate the Botswana government’s request for mutual legal assistance in the 100 billion Bank of Botswana fraud and money-laundering matter after the DPP in Botswana request was turned down and therefore unsuccessful. “The fact that DIRCO failed to give any feedback to the DPP of Botswana over nine months indicates that the South African government is unwilling to assist our client with their request. We will intervene and ensure that our client receives the necessary cooperation from the South African government to ensure that justice prevails,” says Adv. Nel.
This follows after Motsepe-Radebe was identified as a cosignatory of at least two bank accounts (one of which was an Absa and the other a Nedbank account) holding some of the more than P100 billion allegedly stolen from the Botswana government to finance a “coup” before the national election in Botswana. Motsepe-Radebe among others is accused of having laundered millions of Botswana Pulas through Avante Security Services, to sponsor the opposition candidate of Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana.
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).