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.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.