Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Botswana Police sacks officer at centre of spy equipment saga

In a case that has all the hallmarks of a fall guy, a senior police officer who was authorized to purchase the spy equipment that embarrassed Government has been sacked.

Before he was sacked on Thursday, Edward Mholo had been demoted from position of Assistant Commissioner to Senior Superintendent.

His sacking comes a few days after Botswana Police Service was forced to eat dust by way of a P10 million out of court settlement with Dukef Holdings, the supplier of the spy equipment at the centre of the controversy.

“Having taken into account the seriousness of this matter and the legal obligation placed on me, I regret to inform you that I have decided to dismiss you from the Police Service in terms of Section 15(1) (c) of the Police Act Cap 21:01 effective 11th March 2011,” reads part of the letter from Botswana Police Commissioner Thebeyame Tsimako to Mholo.

Mholo has been advised to appeal to the Police Council within fourteen days if he is not satisfied with the Commissioner’s decision.

He had earlier on been demoted because management of the Botswana Police Service felt the equipment that he purchased could not decipher and penetrate the Mascom and be Mobile platforms.
It could only penetrate communication from Orange Botswana.

The explanation given the courts by Mholo was that at the time the order for the spy equipment was placed, Be Mobile was not yet in existence. There was therefore no way he and his purchasing team could have foreseen what technology Be Mobile was going to use.

As it turned out, when Be Mobile became operational, it was found to be using a much more advanced platform that was significantly higher than that which the police equipment could penetrate.
As for Mascom, the court was told that they had migrated to a higher platform, which made it impossible for the P12 million equipment to penetrate the network.

The court had also been told that when they solicited expressions of interest for the spy equipment, Botswana Police only had about P3 million in their coffers while the equipment that was needed cost in the region of P36 million.

Ultimately, Government downgraded their specs worth P12 million, which was also found to have been overtaken by both time and events.

When Government found that they had saddled themselves with a white elephant that could not do the job for which it was ordered they tried to terminate the contract, which had been won by Dukef Holdings.

It was then that the directors of Dukef Holdings approached the courts for redress.
During the case, Mholo testified that Dukef had delivered as per the specifications of the tender, effectively making the Police Service case untenable.

When the Government realized that they were headed for a big loss, they opted for an out of court agreement, which this week saw Dukef awarded P10 million in compensation.

Sunday Standard has information that since he gave evidence that contradicted the Botswana Police official version, the service has been itching to sack Mholo.

Two Senior Assistant Commissioners had, at different intervals, been instructed to find ways to sack Mholo.

Both officers rejected the request from management, saying they could not see any plausible reasons that warranted a dismissal.

Curiously, it has also surfaced that management has already earmarked an officer, who is facing stock-feed theft, as the favourite to take Mholo’s position.

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