The South African businesswoman, Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, whom prosecutors fingered as a co-signatory to at least two bank accounts holding some of the P100 billion allegedly stolen from the Botswana government to finance “terrorism”, has laid charges against the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) director, Stephen Tiroyakgosi; former DPP director deputy, Priscilla Israel; and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) investigator, Jako Hubona.
Motsepe’s report to South African Police comes after the high court declared the P100 billion case a fabrication by state law enforcement agencies. Hubona had alleged that Motsepe-Radebe was a co-signatories on South African bank accounts owned by two companies, Blue Flies and Fire Flies.
Motsepe’s police report is an extra burden to the trio-Tiroyakgosi, Israel and Hubona, who are still fighting to clear their names before local authorities as directed by the court. The court has called the president and the Law society to crack the whip on the perpetrators. This week the Law Society revealed that they would appropriately deal with their implicated members-Tiroyakgosi and Israel.
The case has offended South African individuals and shaken the Botswana and South African diplomatic relations. Last week, the South African Ministry of Defence and Corrections Services revealed that they would be seeking clarity from Botswana. In contrast, the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO) yesterday embarked on a trip to the Botswana Embassy to register its dissatisfaction with the government of Botswana about “their continued undermining of the integrity of the South African State in collaboration with a South African right-wing organisation Afri-Forum through fabricated and false allegations.”
In a similar fashion to her co-accused, Motsepe has always maintained her innocence and warned ‘conspirators’ of possible consequences. Her decision to report the matter to the police mirrors former President Lt Gen Ian Khama, who reported Hubona and others to the Botswana police for perjury.
The role of the DPP, before registering the case in court, according to Khama, is to ensure that evidence through the investigations can hold up and is not fabricated. “They were supposed to thoroughly investigate to give them confidence that it is a winnable case. For them to have participated and taken this to court as they had, especially in the case of Butterfly, truly indicate that they were complicit in committing this crime,” he has said.
This week, the Botswana Police service revealed that the case is over; hence they are now at liberty to give it attention and bring the perpetrators to book. But Khama says he also wants the masterminds behind the conspiracy named and shamed for who they are. Motsepe-Radebe was on the eve of the 2019 elections also accused of bankrolling Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign against President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the controversial race of the chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which Moitoi later withdrew from. Venson-Moitoi, who was seen as Khama’s proxy, said contesting the election would have legitimised what she described as a flawed process.
“I will not run this afternoon because I will not promote a sham. Today’s election is riddled with irregularities,” Venson-Moitoi said, further adding that she would not be part of an election that had been rigged from the onset, saying the ruling party secretariat campaigned for her opponent, President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Around that time, allegations were also flying that billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe was funding a regime-change plot in Botswana, a claim Motsepe vehemently denied.
Following their loss to the Duma Boko-led lobby in the Botswana National Front (BNF)’s national congress last month, some members of the party are reportedly considering forming a new political party.
According to members, the new party will be formed after they receive a tip-off that the BNF will do all it can to ensure that the aggrieved members do not participate in the 2024 national elections. This will reportedly done through a carefully orchestrated primary elections elimination campaign.
Botswana has made improvements on preventing and ending arbitrary deprivation of liberty, but significant challenges remain in further developing and implementing a legal framework, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said at the end of a visit recently.
Head of the delegation, Elina Steinerte, appreciated the transparency of Botswana for opening her doors to them. Having had full and unimpeded access and visited 19 places of deprivation of liberty and confidentiality interviewing over 100 persons deprived of their liberty.
She mentioned “We commend Botswana for its openness in inviting the Working Group to conduct this visit which is the first visit of the Working Group to the Southern African region in over a decade. This is a further extension of the commitment to uphold international human rights obligations undertaken by Botswana through its ratification of international human rights treaties.”
Another good act Botswana has been praised for is the remission of sentences. Steinerte echoed that the Prisons Act grants remission of one third of the sentence to anyone who has been imprisoned for more than one month unless the person has been sentenced to life imprisonment or detained at the President’s Pleasure or if the remission would result in the discharge of any prisoner before serving a term of imprisonment of one month.
On the other side; The Group received testimonies about the police using excessive force, including beatings, electrocution, and suffocation of suspects to extract confessions. Of which when the suspects raised the matter with the magistrates, medical examinations would be ordered but often not carried out and the consideration of cases would proceed.
“The Group recall that any such treatment may amount to torture and ill-treatment absolutely prohibited in international law and also lead to arbitrary detention. Judicial authorities must ensure that the Government has met its obligation of demonstrating that confessions were given without coercion, including through any direct or indirect physical or undue psychological pressure. Judges should consider inadmissible any statement obtained through torture or ill-treatment and should order prompt and effective investigations into such allegations,” said Steinerte.
One of the group’s main concern was the DIS held suspects for over 48 hours for interviews. Established under the Intelligence and Security Service Act, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has powers to arrest with or without a warrant.
The group said the “DIS usually requests individuals to come in for an interview and has no powers to detain anyone beyond 48 hours; any overnight detention would take place in regular police stations.”
The Group was able to visit the DIS facilities in Sebele and received numerous testimonies from persons who have been taken there for interviewing, making it evident that individuals can be detained in the facility even if the detention does not last more than few hours.
Moreover, while arrest without a warrant is permissible only when there is a reasonable suspicion of a crime being committed, the evidence received indicates that arrests without a warrant are a rule rather than an exception, in contravention to article 9 of the Covenant.
Even short periods of detention constitute deprivation of liberty when a person is not free to leave at will and in all those instances when safeguards against arbitrary detention are violated, also such short periods may amount to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.
The group also learned of instances when persons were taken to DIS for interviewing without being given the possibility to notify their next of kin and that while individuals are allowed to consult their lawyers prior to being interviewed, lawyers are not allowed to be present during the interviews.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention mentioned they will continue engaging in the constructive dialogue with the Government of Botswana over the following months while they determine their final conclusions in relation to the country visit.