Tuesday, October 19, 2021

DPP sitting on high profile cases

Directorate of Public Prosecutions is sitting on cases of high profile politicians and public officers implicated in the alleged corruption at Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) Palapye Fenguye Glass Project, Botswana Meat Commission, Botswana Railways and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services.

Investigations on the controversial Fenguye Glass project were completed five years ago and dockets were passed to the DPP in February 2012 and the last docket in 2014.

The DPP was also handed dockets on alleged BMC corruption in November 2012 and those for Botswana Railways in September and October 2016. The Directorate on Corruption and economic Crime also confirmed in December 2014 that investigations against DISS Director General, Isaac kgosi had been completed and the docket passed to the DPP. Curiously, the DPP has however not taken any of the cases to court.

Sources close to DPP claim political interference because the cases are likely to expose the abuse of power by government officials and political leaders for private gain. Keetshabe who was President Khama’s official legal advisor before being appointed DPP, however maintained that his office was independent and dismissed suggestions that he has been held hostage by powerful political interests.

Keetshabe told Sunday Standard that the DPP was the only authority empowered by the Constitution of Botswana to institute and undertake criminal proceedings.

“In the exercise of such powers, the Director shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority. There is therefore no person or authority blocking the prosecutions of any of the three cases involving BMC, BDC and Botswana Railways.”

Sunday Standard can confirm that Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) handed dockets involving the corruption at the three state owned enterprises as far back as 2012 but none of the cases has been prosecuted.

The DPP received two dockets for alleged corruption during the bungled multi-million Pula BDC Fenguye Glass Project, one docket for the BMC alleged corruption and two dockets for Botswana Railways.

With regards to BMC, Sunday Standard has learnt the DPP has decided not to prosecute because of insufficient evidence. It is understood that critical information was on the corruption case was lost when documents were destroyed.

Keetshabe confirmed receiving the dockets from DCEC, but pointed out that, as with all other dockets forwarded to DPP, they analyse the evidence presented before them and only prosecute where they are satisfied that the evidence is sufficient.

“Where the evidence is lacking and there is need for further investigations the docket is returned to the investigating body with clear instructions on what the further investigations should cover,” said Keetshabe.

On the BDC case, Keetshabe explained that DCEC investigations were still ongoing, “the dockets received by DPP were for the purpose of mutual legal assistance with a view to assist the DCEC to obtain evidence from Denmark, Germany and China. The matters can therefore not be prosecuted until the investigations have been completed and the evidence found to be sufficient,” he said.

With regard to Botswana Railways dockets Keetshabe said the evidence is still being studied and the decision whether to prosecute or not will be made in due course, after a careful and thorough analysis of the evidence.

Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West Dithapelo Keorapetse last week asked the Minister in Justice and Defence Ministry Shaw Kgathi why the cases have not been prosecuted.

Kgathi explained that in the case of BMC, “the Director of Public Prosecution took the decision not to prosecute; such decision was being based on insufficiency of evidence and the view that criminal cases investigated by Parliament are not prosecutable as such investigation and the resultant collective evidence is tainted with illegality, the reason being that the mandate of Parliament does not include conducting a criminal investigation,” said Kgathi.

Justifying the delay Kgathi further said it should be noted that corruption cases are complex and involving in nature and therefore take a long time to be completed.

On 3rd December, 2014, the Sunday Standard through its lawyers Bayford and Associates wrote to the DCEC inquiring about the status of the DISS Director General’s case. On 5th December 2014, the DCEC Director General, Rose Seretse wrote back confirming that “the investigations relating to the conduct of one Isaac Seabelo Kgosi have been completed by the DCEC and the docket has been forwarded to the DPP.”

The delay in prosecuting Isaac Kgosi’s case has attracted the interest of international players among them the United States of America and the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC).

For three years running, the United States Department of State has highlighted that Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services Director General Isaac Kgosi has not been prosecuted despite reports linking him to corruption.

In its Investment Climate Statement for Botswana released last year, the report states that, “High level officials have been prosecuted. Allegations that the Director of Intelligence and Security Services (Isaac Kgosi) escaped corruption charges because of his personal connections have circulated widely in Botswana media since 2014.”

This was the third time the US department of state has been harping on the Isaac Kgosi corruption case. In its Human Rights Report released in April 2016, the United States government observed that: “The press continued to publish information leaked from a Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) investigation of DIS Director Isaac Kgosi, a story first reported in July 2014. The documents allegedly demonstrated substantive links to corruption and money laundering. At year’s end Kgosi retained his position, and the DCEC had not initiated any action against him.”

In another Human Rights report, released two years ago, the US Department of State noted that “In July several newspapers published information leaked from a DCEC investigation of DIS Director Isaac Kgosi. The documents allegedly demonstrated substantive links to corruption and money laundering. At year’s end Kgosi retained his position, and the DCEC had not initiated any actions against him. Local newspapers continued to publish reports on Kgosi’s finances.”

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