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.
Gaborone Bonnignton South Member of Parliament (MP) Christian Greef has submitted a letter of complaint to party chairman Slumber Tosogwane to take stern action against former minister Dr Alfred Madigele for causing chaos in the constituency.
There has been simmering tension between the two in Gaborone Bonnignton South, where former minister Dr. Madigele is said to be busy working the ground with the intention of contesting the constituency in 2024. Greef is said to have fallen out of favour with the party top hierarchy due to his association with the beleaguered party secretary general Mpho Balopi, something which he says is “unfounded”. Greef told this publication that “there are some with mischievous attempts here, but I will sort them out.”
Insiders, however, reveal that it is Madigele who has been causing unrest in the constituency as he plots his comeback to parliament in 2024. This is notwithstanding the fact that Madigele has also been promised the position of secretary general, should the party faithful ratify a proposal by the party politburo to reconfigure the position.
However, Madigele does not want to count on the SG position, hence the decision to to contest the Gaborone Bonnington South constituency. There are reports that there is a spirited campaign by some party members to reject a mulled plan to have the SG being a full-time employee of the party. This has irked Greef and has since approached the party structures for redress. “We are writing this letter to issue a complaint regarding misconduct by certain members of the BDP in our constituency.
There are several incidents where these individuals have been causing uncalled-for disruptions during party activities in Gaborone Bonnington South,” a letter penned by Greef, addressed to the regional chairperson, reads. He further added, “The group of people who are causing all these unnecessary tension in our constituency is identified and allegedly known by Madigele’s teams who is said to be campaigning for 2023 primary elections.
As the branch we witnessed the same team with similar misconduct during Bophirima Ward by election which we believe caused the party to lose the ward and continue to bring the image of the party in disrepute.” Lately, Madigele has relocated to the same constituency and that has created anxiety to Greef who is a first-time MP. Greef is concerned about how his rival was accepted in his constituency without his knowledge. If he had his wish, he would kick out Madigele from the constituency.
Greef, in another letter copied to President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi and Chairman Slumber Tsogwane, says Madigele has brought the branch into disarray by campaigning for a parliamentary seat contrary to the party’s regulations for conduct of primary elections. “I therefore humbly appeal to you to call Dr Madigele, who is not a member of our branch, to order,” he said. Party officials in the region are aware of the matter; some say the MP’s complaint is baseless. However, the MP, according to sources, will fight to the bitter end to ensure that his arch rival is purged out.
Monthe and Marumo Attorneys who are representing suspended Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo in a legal dispute pitting him against the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have said that they would submit a legal bill to the agency.
This was after DCEC’s acting Director General, Tshepo Pilane had written a letter to the law firm demanding that some files and documents belonging to the agency be returned. “We refer to your letter dated 3rd June 2022 wherein you advised of termination of our mandate. In view thereof we have to file a notice of withdrawal as attorneys of record for and on behalf of the Organisation (DCEC),” Monthe Marumo Attorneys said in their letter.
The lawyers also indicated that, “the firm is in the process of finalizing your invoice and upon settlement of same, we will duly release the contents of the file, in so far as it relate to DCEC.” Pilane had informed the law firm that, “Following the Directorate’s termination of any and/or mandate between the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and your law firm and/or attorney of an Associate law firm of Monthe Marumo and Company on the 3rd June 2022.”
He added that, “I do hereby request that all DCEC documents in custody be returned to the DCEC on or before 12hours today the 6th June 2022. You are also informed that none of this information shall be used by your office under any circumstances.” Meanwhile Katlholo has told the High Court that the Directorate of Intelligence and Security was on the rampage as it continues to act with impunity.
He revealed this in an urgent application in which he seeks among others that Pilane, Deputy Director General of DCEC Priscilla Israel and the agency’s senior legal advisor Edwin Batsalwelang to be committed to jail for contempt of a court. The Court order had directed that a deputy sheriff should collect files and dockets from the DCEC office and place them into the custody of the Court. “Consequent to the order of his Lordship, the DISS has continued on its rampage and has arrested two officers of the DCEC and detained them in a Hitler style arrangement,” said Katlholo.
He added that, quite clearly the “DISS with the assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents seeks to conceal all the evidence by obstructing Judicial process.” He said his latest current application has been brought at the earliest opportunity following defiance and acts of obstruction at the instance of the respondents. Katlholo saidthe conduct of the Pilane, Israel, Batsalelwang and DIS are an aggression on the rule of law, the Constitution of Botswana and the Judiciary in general.
“The DISS clearly has every intention of continuing to defy my rights and with the due assistance of the 1st to 3rd Respondents (Pilane, Israel and Batsalelwang). To refuse an interdict, thereby allowing the perpetration of an ongoing wrong is an anathema to the principle of legality,” said Katlholo. He said, “The DISS cannot be allowed to continue acting in contravention of the law, and to fragrantly invade an act of Parliament.”
He reiterated that the files or documents or dockets remain vulnerable and there is need that they be removed from the office and placed in the custody of the Registrar. There can never be a safe place than Court, said Katlholo. “Should the matter not be heard as urgent, the likelihood of the files concerned and the information therein dissipating or being interfered with is high and once the evidence of the concerned files has been compromised or contaminated there is no other relief in law that fix such, there is therefore no alternative remedy,” he said.
Katlholo added that, “Most importantly, any unwarranted access to the files may compromise the integrity of ongoing investigations and expose informants and whistleblowers. Once they have been compromised, no court action may restore such.” He said it was necessary and extremely urgent that the Court steps in to protect the rule of law against the respondents, more particularly the DIS and its agents.
The United States through its State Department’s annual report on global religious freedoms is keeping tabs on Botswana’s decision to arrest of controversial pastor Thuso Tiego by the police.
The report was released a week ago. Tiego was re-arrested this week by the police after he allegedly attempted to spearhead a campaign aimed at shutting down some shops that are run by foreigners. The US’ State Department report says Police arrested a pastor from the Bethel Transfiguration Church September 7 when he tried to deliver a petition to President Mokgweetsi Masisi demanding his resignation over what the pastor said was mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.
“The pastor, Thuso Tiego, also criticized the government for restricting religious gatherings at a time when he said that individuals turned to churches for counselling and support during the pandemic,” the report says. It says Tiego was held overnight at a police station and released without charge. The report cites media reports saying that several of his supporters were beaten by police when they gathered outside the station demanding Tiego’s release.
“The national police service did not announce any disciplinary action against the officers involved,” the report says adding that, “The constitution provides for freedom of religion, with certain exceptions, and protection against governmental discrimination based on creed.” On other related issues, the report said the government continued to pursue court cases involving unregistered churches (sometimes called “fire churches”) coming into the country to “take advantage of” local citizens by demanding tithes and donations for routine services or special prayers.
“The government required pastors of some of those churches to apply for visas – even those from countries whose nationals were normally allowed visa-free entry. The government said in June 2019 that it was reviewing the visa policy for these foreign pastors, but by year’s end had not released the results of this review or announced any changes,” the report says. According to the report, former members of one of the most prominent unregistered churches forced to close in 2019, the Enlightened Christian Gathering, subsequently formed their own smaller, independent churches with local leadership that was ultimately registered by the government.
The report says, under the COVID-19 state of emergency that ended in September, the government limited attendance at religious services to no more than 50 persons at one time and limited services to twice a week. The government also banned all religious gatherings during “extreme social distancing” periods. Although the limits on religious gatherings lasted 18 months and prevented some individuals from fully practicing their faith, most religious groups did not say their freedom of religion was being restricted and stated that the extraordinary measures were necessary for public health
The report says the US Embassy officials engaged with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and other religious representatives to discuss religious freedom, interreligious relations, and community engagement. “Topics included government tolerance of minority religious groups, the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on religious expression, and interfaith cooperation to address community challenges,” the report says.
The report says under its broader protections of freedom of conscience, the constitution provides for freedom of thought and religion, the right to change religion or belief, and the right to manifest and propagate religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance. It says the constitution’s provision of rights also prohibits discrimination based on creed.
The constitution permits the government to restrict these rights in the interest of protecting the rights of other persons, national defense, public safety, public order, public morality, or public health when the restrictions are deemed “reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.” “The state of emergency imposed from March 2020 to September 2021 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which capped the size of regular religious gatherings and meetings, was the first time the government ever exercised this provision,” the report says.