Saturday, September 19, 2020

Arrested MI spy opens can of worms

The arrest last week of a double agent Canadian Englishman, who defected from the Diamond and Narcotics Squad (DNS) to the Botswana Defence Force Military Intelligence (MI), has provided a peep show into the cloak and dagger intrigues in the infighting between MI and the police service intelligence.

Andrew Sanderson, who is shuffling in leg irons inside a Gaborone Central Police Station holding cell where he is awaiting deportation to Canada, told The Sunday Standard that his defection from DNS to MI was all part of a pattern in the running war between the two organizations.

“It happens all the time. The BDF has a bigger budget, so they always poach agents from the police intelligence. I am just one of the many who have been poached.”

Sanderson came to Botswana as an envoy of the British High Commission. He later set up Interswana the first internet service provider in the country before slipping into the world of underground drug trade. Two years ago, he became a DNS mole in the drug trade, helping in their investigations on drug peddling and prostitution trafficking between Botswana and South Africa. This has been confirmed by his handler at DNS, Miriam Kilano.

Sanderson, however, defected to MI before the DNS could smash Botswana’s drug trafficking ring. Sanderson, who is being charged with staying in Botswana without a valid passport, last week slit his writs with a stake knife in a suicide attempt as plain clothes police officers, armed with a search and arrest warrant, ransacked his apartment in Phase 4.

Curled up in a fetal position on a Princess Marina Hospital emergency room stretcher, his legs in iron shackles and two police officers keeping a close watch on him, Sanderson told The Sunday Standard that both MI and DNS knew his passport had expired, but allowed him to stay in the country because he was helping them with the investigations. He said the DNS and MI had now disowned him.

Speaking about his attempt to commit suicide, Sanderson said, “I know it was a stupid thing to do, but I felt that it was all over for me”.

“It seems everybody lost their minds,” recalls a police officer close to the case. “The military intelligence and the DNS could not get over their big catch. This white man with connections who would help them break the drug trafficking ring. They plied him with money and asked no questions about his background.” The officer says the intelligence outfits knew that Sanderson did not have a valid passport but were caught up in trying to win him over to their side.

Kilano from DNS has, however, denied knowing that Sanderson did not have a valid passport. She told The Sunday Standard that all she knew was that the passport was confiscated by authorities at Thapama Lodge in Francistown because Sanderson had failed to settle his Hotel bill. Kilano said contrary to Sanderson’s claims, they have not disowned him.
Sanderson’s MI handlers are, however, keeping a safe distance and have only been to see him once at the Central Police Station. They could not be reached for comment. A source inside the police intelligence confirmed this week that the poaching of police intelligence agents by MI was a serious source of tension between the two organizations.

“Although the police intelligence is better trained, it is losing a lot of its sources and informers to the BDF military intelligence who have a bigger budget and are able to pay informers better. This has frustrated a lot of our investigations.”

The British High Commission this week told the Botswana Police Officers handling Sanderson’s case that they can only issue him a new passport but will not buy him an air ticket back to Canada.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

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