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Judge deliver final blow to Okaile, CMB

Okaile

The High Court on 27 January 2022 confirmed a rule nisi issued against properties connected to Rapula Okaile and dispensed a Restraining Order under section 35 (3) of the Proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act. Judge O.M. Motumise has agreed with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that there is enough evidence to suggest that there is reasonable suspicion that the property could be proceeds of crime, and should be ceded to the Office of the Receiver.

The order relates to Lot No. 311, Extension 5, Gaborone, Lot No. 312, Extension 5, Gaborone, Lot No. 2839, Extension 10, Gaborone, Lot No. 22022, Gaborone West, Extension 13, Gaborone, Lot No. 57266, Block 10, Gaborone, Lot No. 3277, Extension 12, Gaborone, Ploughing field at Madiabatho, Pitseng, Scania Truck registered B 925 AUO, Toyota Land Cruiser registered B 925 BBU, Toyota Hilux registered B 675 AYU, Toyota Corrolla registered B 974 BBP, Toyota Corrolla, registered B 679 AZN, JCB Backhoe loader registered B603 APT, JCB Front end registered B 288 AKY, Massey Ferguson Tractor registered B 993 APJ, Tipper Truck registered B 737 ACE, Fuel tank trailer registered B479 BGB, Link Trailer registered B712 AJK, Link Trailer registered B 714 AJK, Link Trailer registered B 498 BGF, Link Trailer registered B 492 BGF, 18 Hydraulic Disc Plough serial number 4302, Row Planter serial number NB75-1272, Farrow Mould Board, serial number ARPG47110, Toyota Land Cruiser registered B587 BEW.

The main issue in the proceedings was to establish whether the various properties cited as respondents should be placed under restraint in terms of the proceeds and Instruments of Crime Act (PICA) on account of a reasonable suspicion that they are proceeds of crime and were acquired in furtherance of the offence of money laundering contrary to section 47 of PICA.

On 19 November 2019, the Director of Public Prosecutions brought an ex parte application in terms of sections 35 and 39 of PICA, for a rule nisi to secure and restrain the respondents pending confirmation of the rule nisi and the subsequent institution and finalisation of the civil forfeiture or civil penalty proceedings against the said respondents.

The DPP alleged in its ex parte application that the respondents (properties) were proceeds of crime in that they were bought with funds obtained by false pretences from the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) by Mr Rapula Okaile and or companies associated with him, amongst them; Capital Management Botswana (CMB), CMB Fund 1, and others.

The court had granted the rule nisi, placing the respondents (properties) under restraint and in the control of the Receiver pending confirmation of, or the discharge of the rule nisi. Judge Motumise confirmed the rule nisi on 25 February 2021, following a lengthy hearing. Okaile had filed extensive answering and supplementary affidavits contesting the rule nisi and seeking its discharge. “The crux of his contention was that the properties were lawfully acquired from innocently derived income,” Judge Motumise observed.

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) received a report on the possible misappropriation of BPOPF funds by one of the directors of CMB, Rapula Okaile in November 2017. “The allegations were of a serious nature, involving an amount in the region of P500 million. The DCEC’s Finance Investigation Unit set up a team of investigators to investigate the allegations. The investigations took about two years to complete. The investigations set out a detailed trail of funds which the BPOPF had intended to invest in private equity funds.”

The relationship between Okaile’s CMB and the BPOPF was set in motion on 11 November 2014 when the two parties entered into an En Commandite Partnership Agreement whose object was the establishment of a partnership called (the BOP, or the Fund), a Botswana private equity fund established for the investment of BPOPF funds in portfolio companies to be approved by BPOPF. Under the agreement, the BOP would accept capital commitments; acquire, hold, and dispose investments in accordance with the Investment Policy of the BPOPF.

Judge Motumise observed that Okaile bought personal assets for himself with some of the BPOPF money. “What Mr Okaile did not dispute that much of the money went into his company, CMBF1 whicjh was contrary to the En Commandite. It is more probable than not that the money was thus obtained under the false pretence that it was going to be invested on behalf of the BPOPF when that was not true. The purchase and registration of the properties (respondents) in Okaile’s name was not an investment on behalf of the BPOPF,” the judge surmised.

The judge found that it was inconceivable for Okaile to have bought so many properties from his earnings and dividends. “First, his monthly salary of P120 000.00 for the period 2016 and 2017 would have been less than P3, 000 000.00. If the dividends of P4, 000 000.0 arte added, the total would still havwe been less than P10 000 000. 00. Allowing living expenses, other household expenditure and tax obligations just to mention a few obvious expenses, Okaile’s disposable income would have been far less than the above total,” Judge Motumise observed.

The judge agreed with the DPP, “I have accordingly come to the conclusion that a case has been made in that it is more likely than not that the funds were obtained by false pretences from the BPOPF by Okaile. It is equally more likely than not that the purchase of the respondents was money laundering contrary to section 47 of PICA.” By so doing Judge Motumise confirmed the rule nisi, subject to the exclusion of Lot 226, Extension 5 Gaborone, against which the DPP has abandoned its prayer for restraint.

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Media have a Role in Accelerating Harm Reduction Adoption

8th December 2022

African Scientists and Experts Call for the adoption of a Harm Reduction in approach in Public Health Strategies and Tobacco Control. Media have a critical role to play in accelerating Harm Reduction efforts by informing and sensitizing cigarette smokers on the availability and benefits of alternative, potentially lower risk products to cigarretes. Traditional cessation and smoking prevention norms are not the only ways that smokers who cannot or don’t’ want to quit can make healthier choices that cause less harm to themselves and those around them.

This was said during the 2nd Harm Reduction Exchange conference for African journalists held in Nairobi, Kenya on the 1st of December 2022. Speaking at the Harm Reduction Exchange Conference, Integra Africa Principal Dr. Tendai Mhizha emphasized the role that journalists and media houses should play in handling misinformation and disinformation in tobacco harm reduction discourse that is actually perpetuating the death and disease caused by people continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes. “There has been a lot of disinformation surrounding the topic of nicotine and the alleged negative effects that e-cigarettes have on public health.

This has led to policies that disfavour risk reduces products and narratives that completely deny their benefits. The media have the difficult responsibility to curb the scourge of disinformation and misinformation on harm reduction just like on other socio-political stances that are prescriptive and do not uphold consumers’ right to healthier lifestyle choices,” Dr Mhizha said.

The Harm Reduction Exchange cast a spotlight on alternative ways to reduce harm among tobacco smokers. Held under the theme Harm Reduction: Making a difference in Africa, the conference focused on the progress being made through harm reduction strategies in all fields related to public health such as drug and alcohol abuse, excessive sugar consumption, skin lightening and other addictive and behavioral practices. A wide array of harm reduction strategies and initiatives that are deployed towards reducing unnecessary deaths through non-communicable diseases were presented and discussed.

On his part, Prof. Abdoul Kassé, a world renowned and awarded Oncologist and a Professor of Surgery at the Cancer Institute in Senegal, said that Harm Reduction is a powerful public A Summary of the HR Exchange 30th November  1st December 2022 health tool that has the potential to reduce cancer by 30% and should be at the centre of all public health development strategies. Harm reduction, he said, has already benefited many people in public health and is the most viable alternative in tobacco control.

It applies to areas where there is a need to reduce the harm associated with a practice or consumption of a substance that is overused in society leading to increased morbidity and mortality. “Innovative Harm Reduction initiatives will help to keep more Africans alive. Tobacco Harm Reduction initiatives, including the use of popular e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and chewing gums, have continued to generate a lot of misunderstanding in both the public health community and in the media. However, there is evidence that the use of potentially less harmful alternatives than cigarettes for those who are not willing or cannot give up smoking with currently approved methods may be a solution, not necessarily the best for everyone but by far better than continuous smoking.

Where cessation repeatedly fails, switching to less harmful products is expected to result in benefits for many smokers,” Prof. Abdoul Kassé said. Similarly, views were expressed by Kenya’s Dr. Vivian Manyeki who said tobacco Harm Reduction has a solid scientific and medical basis, and it has a lot of promise as a public health measure to assist millions of smokers. “Many smokers are unable, or at least unwilling, to achieve cessation through complete nicotine and tobacco abstinence. They continue smoking despite the very real and obvious adverse health consequences and against the multiple public health campaigns. Conventional smoking cessation proposals should be complemented with alternative but more realistic options through Harm Reduction,” Dr. Manyeki said.

Tobacco Harm Reduction was introduced to mitigate the damage caused by cigarette smoking—the most dangerous form of tobacco use, and the leading cause of preventable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. “Nicotine has an addictive potential but plays a minor role in smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Across the world, there is growing interest among experts in novel approaches towards tobacco control and there is an ongoing discussion that reducing the negative effects of smoking can be also achieved by tobacco harm reduction,” Dr. Kgosi Letlape, an ophthalmologist and President of Africa Medical Association and the president of the Association of Medical Councils of Africa, said.

Tobacco cessation is a key factor in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Abstinence from tobacco smoking is one of the primary goals for health promotion and management globally but it is unachievable in a huge amount of cases. This task remains unaccomplished despite extensive public campaigns on the health dangers of tobacco smoking. Thus, the development of novel strategies to reduce smoking is imperative. Moreover, the use of innovations in smoking products has been currently adopted by several smokers to reduce the health risks of smoking.

“The Harm Reduction approach prevents drug-related deaths and overdose fatalities and is the only way out for addicts. In the same way these alternative technologies can reduce tobacco harm and accelerate the journey to a smoke-free world as they reduce exposure to toxicants,” Bernice Apondi, A Policy Manager at Voices of Community Action and Leadership Kenya (VOCAL-Kenya), said.

During the Harm Reduction Exchange, journalists drawn from Southern, West and East African countries, including: Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe debated and set forth several resolutions in regards to the present and future as well as the challenges and progress made in Harm Reduction,and science-led regulation.

The Harm Reduction Exchange brought together high-level policy makers, physicians, scientists and health policy experts with media stakeholders from Africa in a lively mix of speeches, presentations, and panel discussions. The key note speakers included Prof Abdoul Aziz Kasse, Ms Bernice Opondi, Joseph Magero, Jonathan Fell, Chimwemwe Ngoma, Clive Bates, Dr. Kgosi Letlape, Dr. Vivian Manyeki and Dr. Tendai Mhizha.

 

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Over 2 000 civil servants interdicted

6th December 2022

Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.

According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reaching WeekendPost shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.

In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.

The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.

This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publication’s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, “as you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,” she said.

She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.

Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.

Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.

Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.

“It is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,” he told WeekendPost, adding that “when a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolved”.

Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.

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Masisi to dump Tsogwane?

28th November 2022

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.

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