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Debswana purchase of spy equipment evidence emerges

Debswana

Debswana Diamond Company, could suffer massive reputational damage owing to new evidence relating to the purchase of spying equipment targeting the company key personnel.

The discreet purchase of spying equipment was procured through Infotrac (Pty) Ltd company, and the equipment was simply referred to as “boardroom equipment” in order to conceal the nature of the devices the company was purchasing.
According to documents seen by this publication, Infotrac in its dispute with Debswana over P110 million payment, has submitted purchase orders to the court as part of its evidence.

Purchase Order number 4300292617, made on the 28th of February 2019 to Infotrac indicates that Debswana procured at least 11 different types of spying equipment. The purchased equipment comprises; USB Camstick Camera with Night Vision; Coffee Thermos Hidden Camera, LawMate Key Chain HD DVR Camera, Hidden Camera Backpack by Extreme Life Plus, Eon International GPS Tracker, 49 Neckloop Transmitter for V1-10612 Wireless Ear Receiver, Cell Phone & GPS Detector, Mobile Phone Spy Protector, Counter Surveillance Kit, Body Worn Camera Kit and 25-Day Standby Voice Recorder.

Debswana further commissioned and paid Infotrac to provide training to its select staff on the use of the newly acquired spying equipment. The training did not materialize, but Debswana had already paid for the service in advance.  Despite Debswana denying spying its employees, the documents prove that indeed, the diamond giant has been monitoring some of its key personnel. The spying equipment were placed in strategic places, including in company cars and in the staff residences.

Debswana, which remains the country’s golden goose, and handles a sensitive product, has, however, not divulged reasons for spying, rather insisting that there was no spying by the company on its staff.  Infotrac, which is the beneficiary of such purchase has refused to comment on its once covert business dealings with Debswana.  “I am not at liberty to discuss such with the media, and I will not comment because the matter is in court,” said company Director, Mompoloki Motshidi.

Meanwhile, Debswana has also declined to comment on the same basis after this publication sent an inquiry to the corporate affairs department.  “The case which Infotrac has launched against Debswana is shortly due to be heard at court. Therefore, we find that it is not appropriate to comment at this juncture,” said Debswana Corporate Affairs Manager- External, Agatha Sejoe.

This publication wanted Debswana to confirm the procurement of the spying equipment in view of the purchase orders seen by this publication and whether the cameras are still installed to spy on employees. Further inquiry was made on the extent of spying, which included cars and residences, as well as whether such policy was in line with the company corporate governance. WeekendPost also wanted to establish the procurement method used to engage Infotrac to supply such equipment.

Debswana, over the years, have had a covert relationship with Infotrac; providing security services to the company.  The relationship of the two companies came out in public in 2020, over a dispute over P110 million bill, which Debswana has refused to pay, resulting in court action.  Infotrac claims it was engaged by Debswana, to determine among others the suitability of the late and former Managing Director Albert Milton to be appointed to the post.

The service was occasioned by ploy by some in the organisation to try to deny Milton the opportunity to be appointed to the top post on the basis that he was not suitable for the post for various reasons relating to his integrity. After being briefed by some in the echelons of power at Debswana, Infotrac was given a scope of work in which it was expected to deliver its findings.

The findings were, however, favourable to Milton, resulting in his appointment as Debswana boss, succeeding Balisi Bonyongo in December 2018. According to court documents, there was an oral contract between Debswana and Infotrac to provide other services. The nature of the services were however not specified in the documents.

When the dispute started, Debswana suspended some of its personnel including Senior Human Resource Manager, Head of Security and his deputy, and started a forensic investigation on the matter. Details of the investigation are, however, not known.

“Because of the nature of the investigation, Debswana cannot share details of the investigation, save to say that the investigation is a broad-based one and is being conducted by an independent forensic investigation firm. In addition, the details of the investigation cannot be shared in order to preserve the integrity of the investigation process,” Debswana Head of Corporate Affairs, Rachel Mothibatsela said in previous interview with WeekendPost.

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