South African Advocate, Gerhard “Gerrie” Nel who is also the head of private prosecution of Afrikaner interest group, AfriForum, has dismissed the self-appointed investigative report by ex-President Lt Gen Ian Khama which exonerates him and South African businesswoman Bridget Motsepe-Radebe from any wrong doing in the P100 billion Bank of Botswana marathon case.
Nel was appointed recently by the Botswana government to assist with the request for Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) from the South African government through the department of Justice to be handed as evidence in the case.
Nicknamed “Bulldog” for his tenacity in the courtroom, Nel was a prosecutor for the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa until 2017 and he is regularly assigned to difficult and high-profile cases as engaged by Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in Botswana.
Nel, also known for the Oscar Pistorius trial which attracted world attention after the Olympian killed his wife Reeva Steenkamp, said the investigative report by Khama, Bridget-Motsepe is not authoritative on the matter at hand. If you find the means to commission and fund an investigation of yourself by people appointed by yourself it remains just that. It remains unendorsed, an unofficial, and untested investigation, he stated on Thursday live on an AfriForum official face book page at Forum Films Studio in Centurion, SA.
He insisted that therefore the investigative report is irrelevant: its very interesting. It is only useful to those people that commissioned it but as far as we are concerned it is totally irrelevant. Interesting and irrelevant to the purpose that we are doing at the moment. According to Nel, the only investigation that Botswana authorities will do or use is an official Police investigation.
Only the Police has the mandate to officially investigate a crime. They will then hand over the case docket to the prosecution unit that will decide to prosecute or not, he maintained in the feed. According to Nel, its ok for people to declare their thoughts or exonerate themselves through such investigation but if they are on an official investigation the rules are a bit different.
This comes after the allegations of money laundering were contained in an affidavit submitted by Jako Hubona, an investigator with Botswanas Directorate of Economic Crime and Corruption (DCEC), in support of the State of Botswanas case against Botswana intelligence officer, Welheminah Mphoeng Maswabi, also known as Butterfly.
The affidavit posits that ex-President Khama, while still in office and with the help of Botswanas former chief of intelligence, Mr Isaac Kgosi, opened a series of bank accounts at the Bank of Botswana, the countrys central bank, to funnel in excess of USD10.1 billion (ZAR176 billion) to various international and South African bank accounts, over a number of which, according to the affidavit, Ambassador Motsepe and Ms Maswabi were co-signatories.
The States case against Ms Maswabi implies that these funds were intended to be used to orchestrate political unrest and fund opposition groups against the current President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi in which the forensic investigation found that allegations were fabricated.
The full investigative report which is titled Project Monarch: Flies & Lies was conducted by Omnia Strategy LLP which is an international law firm founded by Mrs Cherie Blair, the wife to Tony Blair and acquaintance to Bridget Motsepe Radebe.
SA refusing to provide MLA assistance to Botswana government, Afriforum
Meanwhile the SA Advocate has denounced the Department of Justice in his country on their deafening silence in the hope that the contentious matter will wane so that they do not make decisions that may upsets their people. Advocate Phyllis Vorster, and I, have been duly briefed by the Director of Public Prosecutions of Botswana to inquire if there is any development in the request for MLA that was sent to South African authorities (to a SADC member state) on September last year. Its quite clear that they received that MLA request 11 months ago, he lashed out.
Nel continued: this notwithstanding that all other seeking MLA assistance receive prompt attention but particularly not this one. The irresistible inference is that we are dealing with George Orwels definition of equality in his work of animal farm.
According to Gerri Nel, the refusal is an embodiment of lip service in the State fight against corruption. If we receive to assist one of our SADC partners, how we deal with well-known people in our offices, he asked rhetorically.
The Advocate claims that all these ongoing discussions, rumours and exposure of the Bank of Botswana matter is fuelled by the SA Department of Justice matters refusal to provide for the requested information or at least provide feedback to requesting authority.
Khama, Motsepe want to defeat the ends of justice Gerrie Nel
Nel narrated that we wrote to department of Justice on the 2nd July and again on the 20th July. We wrote to them strongly expressing that the refusal may be tantamount to defeating the ends of justice.
He added that they were met with deafening silence from the department of Justice and that the reasonable time for acknowledging the letter should have been a week and the response should have taken around a months time. Our brief includes an instruction to take whatever steps necessary to ensure that the request for MLA assistance to get the attention it deserves, he stressed.
Gerrie Nel now seeks new judicial writ to order SA to perform its statutory duty
The Botswana governments appointed legal representative has as a result filed an application on mandamus. Unavoidably, we are now forced to take the disconcerting steps to seek some mandamus forcing the Department of Justice to provide feedback in the request to assist with the MLA to the Botswana authorities, he said.
Mandamus is a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior court or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory duty. Now we have filed our mandamus papers. We hope that sanity will prevail. And that the department of Justice will now provide the statements with updates on the progress to the DPP of Botswana, he stated.
If not, he threatened that they will certainly pursue the application for a mandamus. So it is in fact disconcerting that one has to file papers after having issued a request, indicating that we would like to avoid drawn out litigation and avoid financial burden of such an application that the Department of Justice just fails to the duty or just to acknowledge the letters and deal with them. He pointed out that its worth mentioning that DPPs Tiroyakgosi filed confirmatory affidavit in support of the application.
Facts (MLA) important to pronounce Khama, Motsepe guilty or not
All facts should be handed out to the DPP in Botswana so that they can decide whether to co continuing prosecuting or not, Nel said while adding that its a long process and cant even start if information cannot be handed from SA to Botswana thats becomes unfair if its not included.
Botswana DPP becomes a target, victim of smear campaign
Nel however claims that the Botswana DPP has now become a victim of a smear campaign. But he emphasised that their approach to the matter is that they have not and will not pronounce on the guilty or innocence of anybody in the Bank of Botswana matter. I may mention that any names of prominent figures in South Africa and Botswana are dealt with in the application.
Nel accuses Khama et.al of prejudice as the matter is still at court
Nel and DPP has also accused the former President and Bridget Motsepe of prejudice.We also allay prejudice in the matter that was and is still in the court roll and the ongoing investigation, he said.
Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) last week held its 2022 graduation where 727 students graduated after spending the last two years of their academic studies navigating through the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is said that during the pandemic, BAC provided students with laptops, tablets and data sim cards to facilitate virtual learning and blended learning. The Acting Minister of Education and Skills Development at the ceremony, Wilhemina Makwnja noted that the students managed to create connections and build bridges to reach their ultimate goals, therefore their graduation is not only testimony of their strength and resilience, but it also demonstrates their commitment to excel by facing the challenges they encountered head on to break through the barriers and focused on their success.
âI trust that the graduates will build onto these qualities and competencies as they venture into the industry to impart their skills in the various sectors of the economy,â said Makwinja. She also shared that she strongly believes that the graduates will become agents of change and that they will take advantage of the spectrum of opportunities available in the market both locally and internationally.
Living in an era of digital economies, e-commerce, fin-tech and many other new eco-systems that have been created as the world continues to evolve, it is said to be inevitable that we all need to be steadfast and adapt to the rapid changes experienced before the pandemic. âAs part of the transformation agenda, the Ministry of Entrepreneurship has been established with a mandate to drive development of sustainable industries and trade, and this can be achieved through âaccelerated transformative investments in Botswanaâ,â said Makwinja.
She further noted it is through the Ministry that youth entrepreneurship projects will be supported including administration of the Youth Development Fund that facilitates funding commercialization of various youth projects. âThere are other Government incentives in Agriculture which are aimed at supporting Batswana farmers with commercialization of their produce to supply both the local market and exporting to other markets,â added Makwinja.
The BAC Executive Director, Serty Leburu on the other hand enunciated that it was important to recognise that the past years they have gone through a lot of changes and mostly life defining moments as the school lost some valuable staff members and students during the Covid-19 pandemic. âThe environment within which we operate has been changing rapidly and as an institution we have to constantly come up with some interventions and pivot ourselves in order to rise to the test and adapt,â said Leburu.
Leburu also renowned that they were also launching the BAC 2022-2027 Institutional Strategy focusing on key areas for Teaching and Learning, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Transition to University Status and Internationalization, Asset Mobilisation and Optimization as well as Student and Staff experience. âIt is our ambition to continue to expand into other markets to provide access to our programs through partnerships and collaborations with both local and international private and public entities,â added Leburu
In addition to this, she reflected that research, innovation, and consultancy are some of the areas they are making strides to develop and grow in partnership with various stakeholders. Through the schools there are projects that are being worked on at various levels. âAs BAC we continue to work with the industry and our partners, we assess the market to identify training and development needs to capacitate employees to meet the demands of the new and evolving economies,â concluded Leburu.
African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or donâtâ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.
This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. âThere has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.
This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumersâ right to healthier lifestyle choices,â Dr Mhizha said.
The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.
It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. âInnovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.
Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smokingâthe most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. âNicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,â Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.
Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.
âThe Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,â Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.
During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.
The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâs queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, âas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
âIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that âwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.