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: “it’s 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 Botswana’s Directorate of Economic Crime and Corruption (DCEC), in support of the State of Botswana’s 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 Botswana’s former chief of intelligence, Mr Isaac Kgosi, opened a series of bank accounts at the Bank of Botswana, the country’s 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 State’s 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. It’s 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 Orwel’s 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 matter’s 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 government’s 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 it’s worth mentioning that DPP’s 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 it’s a long process and can’t even start if information cannot be handed from SA to Botswana “that’s becomes unfair if it’s 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.
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.