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Friday, 19 April 2024

DPP without answers on Butterfly case


The Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) has failed to furnish lawyers representing former Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) agent, Wilheminah Maswabi, with answers following a litany of questions sent to the prosecuting authority.

Amongst these questions, the defence attorney, Unoda Mack of Mack Bahuma Attorneys, wants to know pertaining to count 1 of possession of unexplained property, “if the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) personally carried out the investigation into the suspicion that the accused was in control of pecuniary resources which were disproportionate with her known sources of income or assets or some other officer out the investigation as contemplated by section (34) of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act.”
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Section 34 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act states, (1) The Director or any officer of the Directorate authorized in writing by the Director may investigate any person where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that that person — (a) maintains a standard of living above that which is commensurate with his present or past known sources of income or assets; or (b) is in control or possession of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his present or past known sources of income or assets.

(2) A person is guilty of corruption if he fails to give a satisfactory explanation to the Director or the officer conducting the investigation under subsection (1) as to how he was able to maintain such a standard of living or how such pecuniary resources or property came under his control or possession

Defense lawyers also demanded that if the Director General of DCEC did not carry out the investigation himself, the State should provide them with the names of such an Officer who carried out the investigation, the rank of the said officer who carried out the investigation and the name of this officer’s employer.

Moreover, a copy of the letter or written instruction from the Director General of the DCEC authorising such an officer to carry out such investigation against the accused person. In their response, State indicated that the request by the Defense relates to issues of ongoing investigation and the Prosecution’s undertaking to the Court that upon completion of the investigations, the Defense will be served with all materials.

Mack also wanted DPP to provide answers on whether Maswabi, when she applied for her passport she did it orally or in writing. The defence lawyers requested that, if the statement was in writing, a copy of such a document be provided by the State and “whether or not Maswabi completed and submitted an application form to the Department of Immigration for the alleged application for a passport as required and that the immigration form be provided.”

“Did the said immigration officer know that the accused person’s names were Wilheminah Maswabi and not Lorato Hilton at the material time?” asked Mack, “On what legal basis or authority did Tshegofatso Baletloa issue a passport under the false names of Lorato Hilton?” “If the alleged person did not pay for alleged passport, why was she not required to pay for the passport?”

In their response to these questions, the State maintained that, “it is the Prosecution’s contention that the request by the Defense relates to issues of ongoing investigation and the Prosecution’s undertaking to the court that upon completion of the investigations, the Defense will be served with all materials.”

Upon resisting to answer most of the questions raised by the defence, the Stated noted that the defence have the right to cross examine any and all witnesses at trial to resolve any and all issues of contention. “Such right we submit and can only be exercised at trial and not at this state.”

It has been over a year since the stagy arrest and historic court appearances of the DIS agent, Maswabi code-named “Butterfly”, which had the whole nation captivated, only for the State to backflip on the decision to prosecute her for the alleged financing terrorism charge.

Maswabi was arrested on October 18th 2019 and slapped with grave offences including financing terrorism, a charge linked to her former boss, Kgosi. Things have not been getting any better for the Directorate of Public Prosecution, which despite connotations of political interference, carries the symbolic constitutional mandate of ensuring that justice is served.

Ever since the establishment of this case, the DPP has been hitting one rock bottom after another. Maswabi’s defence attorneys have come out with guns blazing in pursuit to prove that this case was indeed manufactured and was entirely was a political stunt.[/ihc-hide-content]


Nigerians, Zimbabweans apply for Chema Chema Fund

16th April 2024

Fronting activities, where locals are used as a front for foreign-owned businesses, have been a long-standing issue in Botswana. These activities not only undermine the government’s efforts to promote local businesses but also deprive Batswana of opportunities for economic empowerment, officials say. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has warned of heavy penalties for those involved in fronting activities especially in relation to the latest popular government initiative dubbed Chema Chema.

According to the Ministry, the Industrial Development Act of 2019 clearly outlines the consequences of engaging in fronting activities. The fines of up to P50,000 for first-time offenders and P20,000 plus a two-year jail term for repeat offenders send a strong message that the government is serious about cracking down on this illegal practice. These penalties are meant to deter individuals from participating in fronting activities and to protect the integrity of local industries.

“It is disheartening to hear reports of collaboration between foreigners and locals to exploit government initiatives such as the Chema Chema Fund. This fund, administered by CEDA and LEA, is meant to support informal traders and low-income earners in Botswana. However, when fronting activities come into play, the intended beneficiaries are sidelined, and the funds are misused for personal gain.” It has been discovered that foreign nationals predominantly of Zimbabwean and Nigerian origin use unsuspecting Batswana to attempt to access the Chema Chema Fund. It is understood that they approach these Batswana under the guise of drafting business plans for them or simply coming up with ‘bankable business ideas that qualify for Chema Chema.’

Observers say the Chema Chema Fund has the potential to uplift the lives of many Batswana who are struggling to make ends meet. They argue that it is crucial that these funds are used for their intended purpose and not siphoned off through illegal activities such as fronting. The Ministry says the warning it issued serves as a reminder to all stakeholders involved in the administration of these funds to ensure transparency and accountability in their disbursement.

One local commentator said it is important to highlight the impact of fronting activities on the local economy and the livelihoods of Batswana. He said by using locals as a front for foreign-owned businesses, opportunities for local entrepreneurs are stifled, and the economic empowerment of Batswana is hindered. The Ministry’s warning of heavy penalties is a call to action for all stakeholders to work together to eliminate fronting activities and promote a level playing field for local businesses.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s warning of heavy penalties for fronting activities is a necessary step to protect the integrity of local industries and promote economic empowerment for Batswana. “It is imperative that all stakeholders comply with regulations and work towards a transparent and accountable business environment. By upholding the law and cracking down on illegal activities, we can ensure a fair and prosperous future for all Batswana.”










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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies mark World Health Day 2024

15th April 2024

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany marks “World Health Day” 2024 together with Africa’s First Ladies who are also Ambassadors of MerckFoundation “More Than a Mother” Campaign through their Scholarship and Capacity Building Program. Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “At Merck Foundation, we mark World Health Day every single day of the year over the past 12 years, by building healthcare capacity and transforming patient care across Africa, Asia and beyond.

I am proud to share that Merck Foundation has provided over 1740 scholarships to aspiring young doctors from 52 countries, in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, Gastroenterology, Dermatology, Psychiatry, Emergency and Resuscitation Medicine, Critical Care, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Neonatal Medicine, Advanced Surgical Practice, Pain Management, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and infectious diseases, Internal Medicine, Trauma & Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Neurology, Cardiology, Stroke Medicine, Care of the Older Person, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Child Health, Obesity & Weight Management, Women’s Health, Biotechnology in ART and many more”.

As per the available data, Africa has only 34.6% of the required doctors, nurses, and midwives. It is projected that by 2030, Africa would need additional 6.1 million doctors, nurses, and midwives*. “For Example, before the start of the Merck Foundation programs in 2012; there was not a single Oncologist, Fertility or Reproductive care specialists, Diabetologist, Respiratory or ICU specialist in many countries such as The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Burundi, Niger, Chad, Ethiopia, Namibia among others. We are certainly creating historic legacy in Africa, and also beyond. Together with our partners like Africa’s First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Gender, Education and Communication, we are impacting the lives of people in the most disadvantaged communities in Africa and beyond.”, added Senator Dr. Kelej. Merck Foundation works closely with their Ambassadors, the African First Ladies and local partners such as; Ministries of Health, Education, Information & Communication, Gender, Academia, Research Institutions, Media and Art in building healthcare capacity and addressing health, social & economic challenges in developing countries and under-served communities. “I strongly believe that training healthcare providers and building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to equitable and quality at health care in Africa.

Therefore, I am happy to announce the Call for Applications for 2024 Scholarships for young doctors with special focus on female doctors for our online one-year diploma and two year master degree in 44 critical and underserved medical specialties, which includes both Online Diploma programs and On-Site Fellowship and clinical training programs. The applications are invited through the Office of our Ambassadors and long-term partners, The First Ladies of Africa and Ministry of Health of each country.” shared Dr . Kelej. “Our aim is to improve the overall health and wellbeing of people by building healthcare capacity across Africa, Asia and other developing countries. We are strongly committed to transforming patientcare landscape through our scholarships program”, concluded Senator Kelej.

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Interpol fugitive escapes from Botswana

15th April 2024

John Isaak Ndovi, a Tanzanian national embroiled in controversy and pursued under a red notice by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), has mysteriously vanished, bypassing a scheduled bail hearing at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court in Gaborone. Previously apprehended by Botswana law enforcement at the Tlokweng border post several months earlier, his escape has ignited serious concerns.

Accused of pilfering assets worth in excess of P1 million, an amount translating to roughly 30,000 Omani Riyals, Ndovi has become a figure of paramount interest, especially to the authorities in the Sultanate of Oman, nestled in the far reaches of Asia.

The unsettling news of his disappearance surfaced following his failure to present himself at the Extension 2 Magistrate Court the preceding week. Speculation abounds that Ndovi may have sought refuge in South Africa in a bid to elude capture, prompting a widespread mobilization of law enforcement agencies to ascertain his current location.

In an official communiqué, Detective Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Selebatso Mokgosi of Interpol Gaborone disclosed Ndovi’s apprehension last September at the Tlokweng border, a capture made possible through the vigilant issuance of the Interpol red notice.

At 36, Ndovi is implicated in a case of alleged home invasion in Oman. Despite the non-existence of an extradition treaty between Botswana and Oman, Nomsa Moatswi, the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), emphasized that the lack of formal extradition agreements does not hinder her office’s ability to entertain extradition requests. She highlighted the adoption of international cooperation norms, advocating for collaboration through the lenses of international comity and reciprocity.

Moatswi disclosed the intensified effort by law enforcement to locate Ndovi following his no-show in court, and pointed to Botswana’s track record of extraditing two international fugitives from France and Zimbabwe in the previous year as evidence of the country’s relentless pursuit of legal integrity.

When probed about the potential implications of Ndovi’s case on Botswana’s forthcoming evaluation by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Moatswi reserved her speculations. She acknowledged the criticality of steering clear of blacklisting, suggesting that this singular case is unlikely to feature prominently in the FATF’s assessment criteria.


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