Wednesday, June 19, 2024

DPP admits their P100 billion heist case may be over

The Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Advocate Stephen Tiroyakgosi has all but admitted that without assistance from their South African counterparts, chances of nailing suspects in the controversial Bank of Botswana (BoB) alleged P100 billion Pula money laundering case are not looking good.

Speaking in a virtual press conference addressed by South Africa’s Advocate Geri Nel of AfriForum last week Tiroyakgosi said the refusal by the South African government to grant them mutual legal assistance over the matter rendered the Prosecution’s case weak as they now have to go to court with a reduced charge sheet.

“We have not received any form of communication from our counterparts in South Africa. We believe that the consequence of not having had formal response is that we have had to drop certain charges against the lady Wilhelmina Maswabi and we will be going to court sometime in January (2021) on a reduced charge sheet on account of the fact that we do not have the information that we sought from our counterpart.”

Tiroyakgosi’s utterances come just a couple of weeks after the DPP decided to drop charges of financial terrorism against Wilhelmina ‘Butterfly’ Maswabi citing lack of evidence. The decision effectively absolved former President Ian Khama, former spy boss Isaac Kgosi, and South African businesswoman Bridget Motsepe of any crime in relation to the alleged BoB heist. “We haven’t processed any charges in relation to the two (Khama and Motsepe) as yet on account of the fact that certain information that we sought in relation to them has not been confirmed. The DPP’s chances, it has become apparent, are almost entirely dependent on their South African counterparts’ cooperation.

“We still maintain that we want to have as much information as possible or if there is none, a confirmation that there is no information so we can make appropriate decisions going forward,” Tiroyakgosi said.

The South African government have however insisted they only want to deal with the DPP through diplomatic channels and not through non-state actors (AfriForum).

The DPP have given AfriForum the go ahead to take the South African government to court in a bid to force them to respond to a request for mutual legal assistance on the money laundering saga.

Nel, Head of Private Prosecutions at AfriForum, said the case will be heard in South Africa in June 2021.

He said his legal team has since decided to file the case with the courts after the South African government continued to ignore Botswana’s plea for mutual legal assistance.

“The matter has been enrolled for the courts to decide on it. Unfortunately we have only received a date for this application to be heard for June next year. We will do what we can to ensure it is heard sooner because that creates more time for delay and more things to happen.”

Nel said that DPP has confirmed its support for all the steps that AfriForum is taking.

“I had a telephone conversation with advocate Tiroyakgosi this morning. They confirm the brief, and all the steps we are taking – they support us in going forward. They confirm that they have received no formal communications from South African government pertaining to the application they filed and that because of the failure they had to withdraw certain charges”, Nel told journalists.

State prosecutor Priscilla Israel told a Gaborone Magistrates Court recently that they were having difficulty finding evidence from outside saying the State will need more time. Consequently the prosecutor announced they were dropping a charge of financial terrorism against Butterfly.

The decision to drop the charge, which involved alleged money laundering to bank accounts allegedly connected to former President Khama, Motsepe, and former DIS Director Kgosi dealt a blow to the money laundering case against the four.

They have all denied the charges in which they are alleged to have masterminded the biggest heist in the history of Botswana, allegedly stealing P100 billion from the reserve bank; A charge which has been denied by the Bank of Botswana Governor himself saying there was no money missing from the bank coffers. Charges against the four are based on an affidavit filed by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) alleging that former President Khama, while still in office and with the help of former spy chief Kgosi, channeled in excess of USD10.1 billion (P100 billion) to various international and South African bank accounts some of which Motsepe and Butterfly were co-signatories.

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