The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) is expected to lay charges against The Botswana Gazette Managing Editor Shike Olsen and investigate reporter Innocent Selathwa, the paper’s lawyer confirmed this week.
Joao Salbany of Bayford and Associates has confirmed that his clients were summoned to DCEC offices on Friday and charged with contravening Section 44 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act (CECA). The Section in question prohibits divulging information on an ongoing investigation. The charges emanate from an article published on last week’s edition of the newspaper about allegedly fraudulent oil deals involving politicians, government officials and Botswana Oil.
“My clients were asked to submit a warned and cautioned statement but they refused. In simple terms, the DCEC wanted to record statements from my clients and use them in court,” he said.
Salbany explained that before publishing the article, his clients sent a questionnaire to DCEC asking for their comment on the matter, but the corruption busting agency refused to respond and denied that there was an on-going investigation related to the same story.
“The fact is that they refused to tell my clients anything relating to the alleged corruption. How was the paper supposed to know that there was an on-going investigation? Of course there were allegations that the DCEC was investigating some individuals but when it was approached to comment on the matter, they refused to confirm if indeed there was such an investigation,” he said.
To that end, said Salbany, they intend to challenge DCEC’s argument that the paper shouldn’t have published the story because it knew there was an on-going investigation. Salbany added that the DCEC could easily have approached the paper to discuss how both parties could do their jobs without stepping on each other’s toes. It has since emerged that the DCEC suspected that the news paper had more information on the matter than DCEC.
“Attorney Unoda Mack confirmed that the DCEC told him that they were carrying out investigations into the people named in the article. They felt that the Gazette had more information than they had,” he said.
In a statement issued on Friday, the DCEC said three journalists from the Gazette Newspaper and their attorney were brought to the DCEC for questioning.
“The questioning was in connection with Section 44 of the Corruption and Economic Crime Act (CECA) which prohibits divulging information on an ongoing investigation in relation to an investigation pertaining to Botswana Oil which, the said media outlet contravened,” read the DCEC statement.