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High Court: Morupisi has a case to answer

Morupisi

High Court of Botswana has this week ruled that the former Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi, and wife Pinny Morupisi have a case to answer in their ongoing corruption and money laundering case.

The court dismissed the “no case to answer” that Morupisi and his wife had brought before the court. At the centre of the court case is a Toyota Land Cruiser costing almost half a million which the State alleges Morupisi bought from proceeds of crime. Morupisi and wife therefore face charges on two counts of corruption, and money laundering, although, they wanted the court to rule that they have no case.

However, Justice Christopher Mokwadi Gabanagae dismissed Morupisi and wife’s “no case to answer” application implying that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has a case with the trio which they are answerable for.

“In conclusion I find that the prosecution has established a prima facie case against the three accused in respect of the charges they are facing,” Gabanagae stated in the ruling. The Judge further explained that, while Morupisi was Chairman, monies from Botswana Public Officers Pension Funds (BPOPF) to Botswana Opportunities Partnerships (BOP) for investment were diverted to an unintended recipient namely Capital Management Botswana (CMB) Fund 1 from which it was laundered by transfers to CMB Fund 1 Rand account, CMB Fund 1 dollar account, and Manor Squad Services (Pty) Ltd.

“Critically that part of the money was used to buy the Toyota Land Cruiser in question if to be believed, an inference can be drawn that Manor Squad Services was used as a vehicle to conceal that the true giver of the valuable consideration was CMB and that the Morupisi actively, participated in the plan for the benefit of R 7 Group Pty (Ltd), wife Pinny and him,” Gabanagae stated.

The High Court Judge continued: “I feel that the State has led evidence to show that the accused persons had reasonable grounds for knowing or suspecting that the property was derived or realised, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly from any confiscation offence. This can be inferred from the way the purported sale agreement was prepared and executed. ”

According to Justice Gabanagae, Morupisi was not only paid from public funds as an employee of the government of Botswana and worked for the government of Botswana as a Director of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) and subsequently as a PSP, but also he was appointed to the board as an employer trustee by virtue of his employment in the public service.

The Judge said based on the definition of a public officer, he finds that Morupisi was a public officer when he allegedly committed these offences; was a nominee of the employer (Botswana government); and his nomination to the BPOPF was an extension to his duties as a public officer. It is clear that BPOPF is a public body where public monies are used, and Morupisi was a public officer when he was Chairman of the Board, he said.

“I take the view that there is evidence of which a reasonable tribunal of fact might convict of the offences charged on count 1 and 2 (corruption),” Judge emphasised. He added that the prosecution has led a circumstantial evidence from which and inference could be drawn from the purported sale of the Land Cruiser was not legitimate but probably proceeds of crime.

The State submitted that it has led evidence that covered all the essential elements of the offences charged. On the other side however the defence submitted that the court should resolve on the basis of evidence before it whether the key and central and exhibit in this case, the Land Cruiser motor vehicle was bought by Morupisi or it was given to him as a valuable consideration.

The defence submitted that the motor vehicle in question was legitimately bought by Morupisi for the benefit of his wife and company. The defence also submitted that the charges against Morupisi and wife should be dismissed on the basis that the State has failed to show that the accused persons had the necessary mens rea expressly required by this section.

“That Mrs Pinny Morupisi did not know anything about the alleged corruption by her husband. The State further submitted that there is no basis upon which this particular accused person together with R7 Group (Pty) Ltd could have been charged,” the defence stated.

Initially the State wanted to call 33 witnesses to prove its case while the defence admitted 23 witnesses and only 7 witnesses gave viva voce evidence. The State in its discretion did not call 3 witnesses as it considers them not critical to prove its case, and at the close of the State case, the defence made a submission of no case to answer – in respect of all the charges preferred against Morupisi and wife. The State of DPP is represented by Priscilla Israel while Busang Manewe sits in for Morupisi and co accused (wife and, R & Group (Pty) Ltd).

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State forged Kgosi’s arrest warrant

22nd July 2021
FORMER DIS BOSS: ISAAC KGOSI

In a classic and shocking case of disgrace and dishonour to this country, the law enforcement agencies are currently struggling to cover up a damaging and humiliating scandal of having conspired to forge the signature of a Palapye Chief Magistrate, Rebecca Motsamai in an unlawful acquisition of the much-publicised 2019 warrant of arrest against Isaac Kgosi, the former director of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS).

The cloak-and-dagger arrest was led by the DIS director, Brigadier Peter Magosi supported by the Botswana Police, Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) which accused Kgosi of tax evasion, in the backseat.

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UDC parties discuss by-elections

22nd July 2021
UDC

Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) constituent members are struggling to reach an agreement over the allocation of wards for the imminent ward by-elections across the country.

Despite a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC), Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) and Alliance for Progressives (AP) are said to be active, but the nitty-gritties are far from being settled.

The eight bye-elections will be a precursor of a somewhat delayed finalisation of the brittle MoU. The three parties want to draw a plan on how and who will contest in each of the available wards.

This publication has gathered that the negotiations will not be a run off the mill because there is already an impasse between the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) which is a UDC constituent and AP (currently negotiating to join umbrella).

The by-elections joint committee met last week at Cresta President Hotel in a bid to finalise allocation but nothing tangible came out of the gathering, sources say.

The cause of the stalemate according to those close to events, is the Metsimotlhabe Ward which the two parties have set their eyes on.

In 2019, he ward was won by Botswana Democratic Party’s (BDP) Andrew Sebobi who unfortunately died in a tragic accident in February last year.

Sebobi had convincingly won by 1 109 votes in the last elections; and was trailed by Sephuthi Thelo of the UDC trailed him with 631 votes; while Alliance for Progressives’ Innocent Moamogwe got 371 votes.

Thelo is a BCP candidate and as per UDC norm, incumbency prevails meaning that the BCP will contest since they were runners up. On the other hand, AP has also raised its hand for the same.

“AP asked for it on the basis that they have a good candidate but BCP did not agree to that request also arguing they have a better contestant,” one UDC member confided to this publication.

Notwithstanding Metsimotlhabe Ward squabble, it is said the by-election talks are almost a done deal, with Botswana National Front (BNF) tipped to take Boseja South ward in Mochudi East constituency. Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) will be awarded Tamasane Ward in Lerala/Maunatlala constituency, sources say.

“But the agreement has to be closed by National Executive Committee (NEC),” emphasized the informant.

The NEC is said to have been cautioned not to back the wrong horse but rather rate with reason and facts.

UDC President, Duma Boko has told this publication that, “allocation is complete with two wards already awarded but with only one yet to be finalized,” he could not dwell into much details as to which party got what and the reasons for the delay in finalisation.

Chairperson of the by-elections committee, Dr. Phenyo Butale responded to this publication regarding the matter: “As AP we contested and as you may be aware we signed the MoU with UDC and BPF to collaborate on bye-elections. The opposition candidate for all bye-elections will be agreed by these parties and that process is still ongoing,” he said when asked if AP is interested on the ward and how far with the talks on bye-elections.

Butale, a former Gaborone Central Member of Parliament, who is also AP Secretary General continued to say, “As the chairperson of the bye-elections committee we are still seized with that matter. We should also do some consultations with the local structures. Once the process is complete we will issue a notice for now we cannot talk about the other two while the other is still pending the other one”.

Butale further clarified: “There is no such thing as AP and BCP not in agreement. It is an issue of signatories discussing and determining the opposition candidates across the three wards.”

Apart from the three wards, there are five more council wards that UDC is yet to allocate to cooperating partners.

FROM PALAPYE MEET: BPP CAUTION NEC MEMBERS  

With the UDC cheerful from last weekend’s meeting in Palapye, the meeting however was very tense on the side of both BCP and BNF, with only BPP flexing its muscle and even lashing out.

BCP going into the meeting, had promised to ask difficult questions to the UDC NEC.

BCP VP and also acting Secretary General, Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang, presented their qualms which were addressed by UDC Chairperson Motlatsi Molapisi, informants say.

It is said Molapisi is fed up and concerned by some UDC members especially those in the NEC who ‘wash party’s dirty linen in public’.

Insiders say the veteran politician cautioned the NEC members that they “will not expel any party but individuals who tarnish the image of the UDC.”

It is not the first time BPP play a paternalistic role as it once expressed its discontent with BCP in 2020, saying it should never wash UDC linen in public.

At first it is said, BPP, the oldest political formation in Botswana, claims disappointment on BCP stance that UDC should be democratised especially by sharing their stand with the media. Again, BPP was not happy with BCP leader Dumelang Saleshando’s decision to air his personal views on social media regarding the merger of UDC party.

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DIS infiltrates Police fingerprint system

22nd July 2021
Makgope

Botswana Police Service (BPS) Commissioner, Keabetswe Makgophe, has of late been dousing raging fires from various quarters of society following the infiltration of the police fingerprint system by the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS), WeekendPost has learnt.

Fresh information gleaned from a number of impeccable sources, points to a pitiable working relationship between the two state organs. Cause of concern is the DIS continuous big brother role to an extent that it is now interfering with other institutions’ established mandates.

BPS which works closely with the DIS has been left exasperated by the works of the institution formed in 2008. It is said, the DIS through its Information Technology (IT) experts in collusion with some at BPS forensics department managed to infiltrate the Fingerprint system.

The infiltration, according to those in the know, was for the DIS to “teach a lesson” to some who are on their radar. It is said the DIS is playing and fighting dirty to win the fights they have lost before.

By managing to hack the police finger print system, a number of renowned businessmen and other politically exposed persons found their fingers in the system. What surprised the victims is the fact that they have never been charged of any wrongdoing by the police and they were left reeling in shock to learn that their fingers are on the data-base of criminals.

In fact, some of those who their fingerprints were falsely included in the records of those on the wrong side of law learnt later when other errands demanded their fingerprints.

“We learnt later when we had to submit and buy some documents and we were very shocked,” one politician who is also a businessman confided to this publication this week.

“We then learn that there are some fabricated criminality recorded for us, as to when did we commit those remained secret to the police, but then we had to engage our lawyers on the matter and that is when we were cleared,” said the politician-cum- tenderpreneur.

The lawyers have confirmed engaging the police and that the matters were settled in a gentlemen’s agreement and concluded.

All these happened behind the scenes with the police top brass oblivious only to be confronted by the irked lot, police sources also add. The victimized group who most of them have been fighting lengthy battles with the DIS read malice and did not blink when it was revealed that these were done by the DIS.

“And it was clear that they (DIS) are the ones in this dirty war which we don’t understand. Remember when we sue, it will be the Police at the courts not the DIS and that is why we agreed to a ceasefire more so they also requested that be kept under carpet,” said the victim.

Nonetheless, the Police through its spokesperson Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, briefly said: “we do not have any system that has been hacked.” On the other hand DIS mouthpiece Edward Robert was not in office this week to comment on the matter.

Reports however say DIS boss, Peter Magosi, who most of the victims accuse of the job, is said to have met his police counterpart Makgophe to put the matter to bed.

COVID-19 RAVAGES POLICE

As frontline workers, Police have not escaped the wrath of Covid-19. Already the numbers of those infected has reached the highest of high and they suggest that they be priorities on vaccine rollout.

“Our job is complicated, firstly we arrest including those who are non-compliant to Covid protocols and we go to accidents and many more. These put us at risk and it seems our superiors are not bothered,” said one police officer this week.

The cops further complain about that working spaces are small, as such expose them to contact the virus.

“Some tests positive and go for quarantine while the rest of the unit will be left without even test carried out. If at all the bosses are serious all the police officers should every now and then be subjected to testing or else we will be no more because of the virus,” added another officer based in Gaborone.

The government has since placed teachers on the priority list for the vaccines, it remains to be seen whether the police, who also man road blocks, will be considered.

“But our bosses should convince the country leadership about this, if not then we are doomed,” concluded a more senior officer.

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