Friday, September 18, 2020

Appeals court upholds whistleblower’s plea

BY KHONANI ONTEBETSE

The Court of Appeal has upheld an appeal launched by a whistle blower who was fired from her job for uncovering corruption at Statistics Botswana.

Justice Monametsi Stephen Gaongalelwe has ordered that former human resources officer Marang Teisi at Statistics Botswana be reinstated to her post.

Teisi was dismissed by Statistician General Anna Majelantle on allegations of improper disclosure of Information and abuse of office by accessing confidential information for private gain.

This after Teisi had filed a complaint with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) detailing incidences of corruption at Statistics Botswana.

According to court records, in 2014 the DCEC dispatched a letter to Statistics Botswana expressing its desire to interview certain officers and among them was Teisi.

The DCEC requested Teisi to make a statement on her on and submit it to the corruption and economic crime fighting organ of the State. She complied.

But her statement was leaked to the media and Statistics Botswana laid disciplinary charges against her and ultimately dismissed her from work.

Justice Gaongalelwe has found that Teisi was correct in her argument that in the circumstances of the case there was no evidence on which a reasonable man properly applying his mind to the facts could conclude that she was the person who leaked her statement to third parties.

While she admitted that she authored the statement, she argued that she was not responsible for the leak.

Gaongalelwe noted that on completing her statement, Teisi said she placed a draft in a drawer and delivered her statement to the DCEC.

She said the drawer is unlockable, an argument that Statistics Botswana did not challenge. It was her further explanation that after submitting her formulated statement to the DCEC she would shred the draft but it had disappeared before she could do so.

The judge found that Statistics Botswana, in its answering did not get the actual copy of the statement that had been delivered to the DCEC.

Instead, Statistics Botswana said, it was incumbent upon Teisi to go get such a copy but she did not. All in all Statistics Botswana’s case was that the leak had nothing to do with the DCEC investigations but Teisi had written it solely for the purpose of giving it to the media.

But Justice Gaongalelwe found that there is a glaring gap in relation to this assertion.

“Since it is common cause that the panel did not have the statement made to the DCEC it is hard to conceive how it could have concluded that the leaked document had nothing to do with that one. The panel had simply compared the leaked document with nothing to come to its conclusion on that point,” he said.

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