Monday, July 15, 2024

A thrill seeking spy caught in the fight between Botswana and Zimbabwe

“I felt the cold metal of a gun on my forehead. The first thing that came to mind was f#*k, my brain is going to mess this place,” Andrew Sanderson tells me. He was speculating on how he is likely to meet his death when the conversation veered to this incident in Serowe a while ago when he found himself staring down the barrel of a gun.

It feels strange to be discussing his death so casually, over half empty cans of Black Label beer and Debonair’s pizza in a dark room. Andrew, I am quickly realizing, speaks first – in a cascade of laughs and funny voices – and thinks later.

“There is a bullet with my f8#ng name on it. I am sure there is a f*#*ng shoot to kill order against me. If those guys catch me, they will definitely kill me. They wanted to kill me. I have got the f@#*king works to prove it,” he says lifting his T-shirt to reveal pork marks which he says are bruises from electrodes when he was being electrocuted by Botswana security agents.

“The f#@*ing fat mother f*#@er with a f#*@ing wrikled face at the Diamond and Narcotics Squad did this to me. I want the story to go worldwide. You have got to contact the big papers. My favourite is the Times of London, but you f@#*king work it out.”

Andrew has just escaped from police custody and is in hiding. After skipping from a police holding cell his first stop was the Zimbabwean High Commission where he had contacts who he was hoping would sprint him out of Botswana. “Those guys know what they are doing. They hooked me up with one of their men who is masquerading as a taxi driver. He is the one who brought me here.”

Two years ago, Andrew was a double agent of the military intelligence and the Botswana Police Diamond and Narcotics Squad (DNS), playing on the rivalry between the two spy units. He was later bundled out of the country in hand cuffs and slash marks on his wrists after he tried to commit suicide.
For sometimes he bummed around, sleeping on the street of London and eating from soup kitchens. Then he hit the big time when his rich aunt passed away, leaving him a lot of money, believed to be in excess of one million pounds. “One of the first things I did was to buy lots of coke and ODed (overdosed). I passed out and came close to dying. When I came to, I was sweating like a pig. For more than 20 minutes my heart was pounding and my pulse was racing. It was such a thrilling experience. I did it because I had the money and it was on the list of ten things I wanted to do before I die. Just to dope myself to the edge where I could reach out and feel the other side. I wanted to go through a near death experience in a stupor of coke.”

He got bored with the life. One day he just upped and left with his bank cards. By his own account, he wanted to go to a third world country where, on his strong British Pound, he would live the rest of his life in a hotel, drinking beer and being entertained by prostitutes.”

He went to Namibia where he planned to live it up. He says it was while he was in Namibia that one of his Zimbabwean prostitute friends introduced him to the Zimbabwean Ambassador, Chipo Zindonga. The Zimbabwean envoy then engaged him to investigate human trafficking involving Zimbabweans. He decided to come to Botswana, hoping to revive his DNS and military intelligence contacts. For sometime, things seemed to be going well, “until I stumbled on some things they did not want me to see.” Andrew claims that he discovered a murder case that the Botswana intelligence unit is trying to hide and training camps used by MDC insurgents in Botswana.

“These guys then locked me up and interrogated me for six days to try and find out how much I knew. I did not tell them a thing.”
There is an awkward moment in between sips of Black Label and bites of pizza.

I interviewed him two years ago on a Princess Marina Hospital bed shortly before he was bundled out of Botswana.
“You wrote that I was part thrill-seeker, part lager lout and part deal maker whose loyalty is not for sale, but for rent to the highest bidder,” he says ÔÇô how do you come back from that?
“I probably look even more like a deal maker whose loyalty is for rent now,” he says as he asks for a phone to call the Zimbabwean Ambassador in Namibia and fill her in on his find. After a few moments on the phone, the ambassador hanged up and called back from a more secure line. “That is sensitive information. We can not discuss it on the phone. Just go to Lanseria in South Africa as planned and we will see what we will do from there,” says Zindonga.

Andrew is optimistic that the information he has will convince his contacts at the Zimbabwean High Commission to sprint him out of Botswana. “If I fail to make it out of Botswana and they kill me, you will have an even better story,” he says before bursting into laughter.


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