For almost two months now, a senior manager at Botswana Railways has been on suspension.
Although she confirmed the suspension, BR’s Public Relations Officer, Onkgopotse Moreri, would not go as far as to reveal circumstances that led to the manager’s suspension.
“This information cannot be disclosed, as this case is still pending,” Moreri said.
She would also not reveal what the investigations have unearthed so far. It would appear that the matter is being handled internally because the Mahalapye police say that the case had not been reported to them.
According to BR sources, the manager has been implicated in improper use of the company’s letterhead that involved what would amount to forgery.
The allegation is that the manager connived with a junior officer to forge a letter to a bank in order to help the latter secure a loan. One part of the story is that this could have been a long-running scam.
BR has an arrangement with banks through which employees can secure personal loans. One employee is said to have applied for this loan and after having that application rejected, got the manager in question to help out by writing him/her a letter of recommendation. That, the story goes, was done using the organisation’s letterhead and forging the signature of a more senior manager with power to make such recommendation. Dumbfounded that its well-reasoned rejection of the loan application was being contested, the bank contacted the latter to question his actions and only then was the criminal plot discovered.
The erring manager, who was suspended on October 6, still draws a full salary. According to Moreri, ‘normal investigatory suspension entails that the employee remains on full salary’.
This is the second time in a space of two years that a senior BR manager has attracted the wrong kind of public attention.
Almost two years ago, BR’s former CEO Andrew Lunga, was flailing in hot water after his employer, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime turned up the heat on him. When his contract was terminated, Lunga was given only P5000 because he had maxed out on the company credit card given to him. DCEC had also been running a background check on him to determine the veracity of academic qualifications that his curriculum vitae said he held. Prior to this climax, information had come out that Lunga rented out personal property in Johannesburg to a BR representative based in South Africa. He charged rent that some BR insiders felt was deemed a bit too steep for the quality of the accommodation.