The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) last month smuggled undeclared cargo into Botswana, believed to be ballot papers from Israel.
Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information that a Ukraine cargo career, Antonov from Israel landed at Sir Seretse Khama Airport on the night of August 30. To evade customs formalities, the cargo carrier was parked inside the OK 1 hanger instead of going to the Customs cargo area as is practice, and the OK 1 service crew was chased out of the hanger to ensure confidentiality.
Customs officials and intelligence agents deployed as customs officials at Sir Seretse Khama airport told Sunday Standard that no one was allowed near the contraband cargo which was smuggled out of the airport by military green trucks that had gone into the airport area through the VIP entrance. Vehicles going in and out of the airport through the VIP gate are not searched.
The DISS has been secretly peddling stories that the contraband consignment was mortars and other arms of war procured from Israel. Sunday Standard sources inside the intelligence community, however insist that this is only a cover story designed to lend a less sinister appearance to the contraband cargo that was smuggled into the country. “Misinformation happens all the time in intelligence circles”, a source told the Sunday Standard.They explained that this however was not a convincing cover story because both the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the DISS have in the past imported arms of war and surveillance equipment but they all went through the normal customs clearance procedure. Some of the imported military equipment was brought into the country by Antonov but they still had to go through customs clearance. “There is nothing secret about importing mortars from Israel. In 2009 Botswana imported 12 81 mm mortars from Israel, and the consignment went through regular customs clearance procedures.
You can find that out from Zebra Shipping who usually do customs clearance for both the BDF and the DISS. I can tell you now that Botswana has 22: 81mm mortars and 6:22mm mortars, it is not a secret, and so what would be so special about the mortars that have to be secretly smuggled into the country? It is all a cover story. A number of my colleagues in the intelligence who are all curious about the consignment did an analysis, and we all came to the same conclusion that the cargo was most likely ballot papers. In the unlikely event that indeed the consignment was weapons of war smuggled into the country, then it would mean someone is preparing for a civil war and is stockpiling guns and not accounting to both the customs officials and the central arms registry.”
The Source explained that “for BDF and DISS imports, customs officials and the central arms registry would issue an import permit in advance. When the consignment arrives the goods would be checked against the permit and a clearance certificate would be issued.”
In this case, no import permit was issued and customs and customs officials were not allowed to inspect the consignment.
The source revealed that a Defence Web Botswana threat report for 2003 shows that, “Botswana is currently facing no internal and external military threat, and that the country’s internal political structure has come under international scrutiny in recent years, so do your math.”