A few weeks after the courts threw out the highly anticipated National Petroleum Fund (NPF) money laundering cases, damaging audio clips have now surfaced from a heated meeting between the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) putting the credibility of key crime fighting institutions at stake.
With doubts and trust in DPP and DCEC as well as the notorious Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) having been at their lowest ebb, the latest development could have dealt with what remained of the trio’s reputation. When the audio clips from the DCEC and DPP meeting surfaced this week, it appears the DCEC through their Senior Investigator Lebogang Moshasho long told DPP that they do not have enough evidence to prosecute.
“We received documents from the investigating officer, but looking at them we couldn’t get sufficient evidence, we then requested to all the parties involved including DPP to say if the matter is already at court, it means maybe we are missing evidence from this file. We wanted assistance and guidance from the DPP. We also agreed to have a case conference so that we can have a common understanding until today,” the investigator stated.
Moshasho said they requested on several occasions to be given all the documents, including evidence that prompt the charges but until today, they do not have it. Assistant Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) -Priscilla Israel who is the guiding prosecutor- is heard bulldozing and using her ‘senior’ tag position quashing Bareetsi’s submissions.
“I don’t understand when you say there is no evidence because from the file that I have seen from Hubona, there is enough evidence as the prosecutor. There are only few issues that you needed for particular charges that are before court. That is what was supposed to be taken except for the terrorism matter,” she said.
Israel continued to say that they had a prosecution guided plan with the Procedures, Guidance and Information guidelines: “This is what we did with CMB, NPF and Morupisi’s matter. All these other technicalities we don’t know where they are coming from.” Moshasho maintained that there is a write-up from Bank of Botswana indicating that they are not missing any money, so there is no evidence.
“Again we were told that there is a certain house, and we found that it was allocated to Butterfly by Kweneng Land board and she sold the plot under value of standard, then we can’t say she is living beyond her means. Another plot was given to her by her father so there is no living beyond means there,” she said. She continued to say there is an alleged P48 million purported to be in South Africa but the account holder has denied these allegations.
In December 2020, charges of financing terrorism levelled against Welheminah Maswabi codenamed Butterfly were dropped. While many had shifted their eyes from the NPF case considering how it was going, the State dropped another bombshell when it dropped the main charge in Butterfly’s case. The State indicated complexity of investigations as the main reason for the request to drop the charge.
The 47-year-old Welheminah Maswabi now remains charged with two counts of possession of unexplained property and false declaration for a passport. Also in December last year, Magistrate Kamogelo Mmesi freed all the accused persons in the NPF case.
Delivering the ruling, Mmesi referred to the charges as bogus. “I am inclined to side with the defence that the charges are defective. Some of the charges are speculative, as they don’t mention which accused person fitted where.’’
The controversial NPF case had a total of 14 accused persons including amongst others; businessman Bakang Seretse, former Director of Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) Isaac Kgosi, former Minister Sadique Kebonang, High Court Judge Zein Kebonang, Kenneth Kerekang, Kago Stimela, Mogomotsi Seretse, Thato Bojelo and their companies with sixty- six (66) charges including amongst others financing terrorism, money laundering and corruption.
In the leaked audios, DCEC legal advisor Tsholofelo Bareetsi said when it comes to the accounts that they created at BoB, the team has requested him to raise a communication to BoB to try and set a meeting so that they can establish how the bonds were set-up.
“They believe that the bonds could have been where the leakages were and if not careful it is worth those investments that when they matured then they got diverted. They have not really been able to establish what really transpired. So the issue of the accounts honestly when it comes to accounts that were established, we do not have any progress on it from the DCEC side,” he said.
Bareetsi also told the DPP that Magosi is still holding critical information from Germany and UK and awaiting authorisation. According to the contents of the meeting, the highly classified blue file registered docket 508 is empty, void of any evidence.
A prominent lawyer, Busang Manewe who is representing some of the accused persons in the case wrote on social media after the audio leaks: “I have listened to the leaked tapes of an alleged explosive meeting between DIS, DPP and DCEC in relation to major corruption cases before our courts. Obviously my heart is sore. My client (s) names cropped up.
I was neither shocked nor surprised about the contents of the tapes. I pray hard that the Lord Almighty should help me zip my mouth and not say what is exactly in my mind about these cases. It isn’t pleasant for the truth isn’t always pleasant. So help me God.”
Reeling from the damage, DCEC released a statement of Thursday, confirming the authenticity of the meeting as well as assuring that the crime busting agency is still focused on its mandate. “The DCEC further wishes to state that within all lawfully permissible limits, and necessary, reasonable and operational means, it will cooperate with any government agency to get the truth and have those responsible held to account, noting that neither official government business generally, nor matters related to investigations in particular, can be conducted in this carefree fashion where the end justifies the means,” said the agency spokesman, Lentswe Motshoganetsi.
While the charges against prominent businessman Bakang Seretse were dropped in December 2020, his attorney who is one of the leading defence lawyers in the matter, Kgosietsile Ngakaagae, had told journalists that the charges were politically motivated.
Former President Ian Khama, former spy chief, Isaac Kgosi and former spy agent Welheminah ‘Butterfly’ Maswabi last year issued individual statutory notices demanding P85 million from government in damages for defamation of character. The trio issued statutory notices for defamatory allegations levelled against them in the Butterfly case by the State.
Besides the money, the trio is also demanding a public apology and retraction and an undertaking by the State that it will desist from making, and publishing or cause to be published any further defamatory statements. Khama demands P25 million while Kgosi and Maswabi demand P30 million each.
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.
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.
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.