Thursday, July 7, 2022

Details of BDF intelligence illegal spying on former deputy commander kept secret

Details of how beMobile cellular phone service provider helped Botswana Defence Force military intelligence to eavesdrop on dismissed former Deputy Commander, General Pius Mokgware’s cellular phone conversations may be kept secret following an out of court settlement on Monday.

Mokgware had launched a lawsuit against BDF and beMobile after he was dismissed from the army allegedly following an extra-judicial surveillance against him, which he described as “systematic monitoring and tapping of phone calls, communications from his cellular phone and general surveillance”.

It is believed that President Lt Gen Ian Khama and the BDF fired the former deputy commander on the strength of intelligence illegally gleaned from his BeMobile cellular phone conversations.

Mokgware has since withdrawn his case against BDF following an out of court settlement. The lawsuit against beMobile, however, is still before court.   

Indications are that beMobile will take cue from the state and opt to settle out of court.
Mokgware had wanted a total of P12 million; P6 million from BDF and P6 million from beMobile.

In an amended affidavit, Mokgware is demanding that BTC and beMobile furnish him with documents he requires for purposes of his law suit against the two state-owned phone service providers.

The former BDF boss states in his statement that beMobile General Manager, Anthony Masunga, had told him that they had recently taken disciplinary action against employees they had found to be accessing customers’ accounts without authority and that the system had provided the information necessary to trace the employees in question.

Mokgware was responding to beMobile’s reasons for declining to produce the print out showing persons who had accessed his cellular phone account claiming that beMobile system does not create logs or print outs from which it can be determined who has accessed an account.

“This runs contrary to the information that I was given by Mr Masunga when I first reported my complaint a day following receipt of the sms subject of litigation,” said Mokgware. He said at the time, Masunga assured him that each user with access to customer’s accounts has a password and once such password is used at any given time the system records who has accessed information and what particular account they were accessing.

“Mr Masunga assured me at the time that they would thus be able to trace such user, if any, in their investigation into my complaint. I, therefore, dispute the current about turn taken to claim that such information is not generated at all,” states Mokgware.

He also accuses BTC of attempting to deny the existence of documents generated by BeMobile consequent to his lodging a complaint with Masunga.

“I wish to point at this juncture that such denial cannot be correct as upon following up progress on enquiry into my complaint some in February/March 2012 with Mr Masunga, he told me personally that since I have also reported the matter to Second Respondent (The Director General, Directorate of Intelligence and Security) Second Respondent office was not in a position to give any feedback directly back to me on the matter. He advised me in this regard to take up the matter with the Second Respondent,” says Mokgware.
He said he was advised by the DIS Director, Isaac Kgosi, that statements had been taken from persons referred to and records obtained from beMobile, including a report from beMobile.??“He further advised that his office was not in a position to divulge to me the contents of the documents and their report on the matter in the absence of a court order to that effect,”┬áhe said.

In an earlier letter to the Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme and retired BDF Commander General Tebogo Masire, General Mokgware had alleged that around January 2010, a BDF Intelligence Officer (known to this paper) erroneously sent him a text message requesting details of his communication on his private mobile number.??He states that from the text message, it was clear the message was a request to a beMobile employee and “it was self evident from the sms that this was not the first time that such information had been requested”. ??Mokgware further claimed that his investigations pointed to the involvement of the army’s high ranking officials who instructed junior officers to tail him.

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