Former Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Director General, Isaac Kgosi with the help of an Israeli Security and Defence company Dignia Systems Limited planned a covert operation to create a militia behind the back of the Botswana Defence Force.
Details of Kgosi’s clandestine spy militia are revealed in court records of the P250 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) plunder.
The court records further reveal that the establishment of the paramilitary force complete with Special Forces, VIP protection commanders and foot soldiers was illegal and kept secret from the BDF.
In his supporting affidavit in the ongoing P250 million NPF case, BDF Major General and Commander of the Forces Molefi Seikano revealed that, “I state that sometime in June 2019, this year, the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Officers Lebogang Mashasho and Moses Tshelwane approached me in the course of investigating the matters addressed above.”
He further stated that in the course of the investigations the two officers showed him invoices from Dignia Systems Limited addressed to Khulaco Management Services with listed items; Aeromantics Dignia AEROSTAB-UAV, Special Forces to Botswana, SUV Platforms Support, IMWT Course Botswana, Basic VIP Protection Course and VIP Protection Commander Course.
“I state that the above mentioned items, more particularly the developments of special forces capability to Botswana is the exclusive preserve of the Botswana Government through the Commander, Botswana Defence Force and it is not the mandate of the DIS to develop special forces capability,” said Seikano.
Kgosi had secured P250 million from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) stating it was to be used for anti-poaching operations; he however kept information about the funding secret from the BDF although anti-poaching operations are an exclusive preserve of the BDF, stated Seikano. “Neither DIS nor General Isaac Kgosi ever told me that they had secured funding for addressing any threat relating to anti poaching, notwithstanding that these constituted the exclusive mandate and preserve of the Botswana Defence under my command and leadership”, states Seikano in his sworn statement.
He further pointed out that the Basic VIP Protection Course and VIP Protection Commanders’ Course which were to be provided by the Israeli company are not relevant for combating or supporting anti-poaching and boarder operations.
Kgosi’s deal with Dignia Systems mirrors the Papua New Guinea scandal where the Israeli company is currently embroiled in a controversy after it was allegedly secretly contracted by the country’s Prime Minister to create a private intelligence agency and secret paramilitary spy force.
It has further emerged that Kgosi tried to usurp ivory poaching hotspots in the Shaile, Lenyanti and Savuti areas. This was around the time that the DIS under Kgosi was being accused of running rogue diamond and ivory smuggling operations. This was after the DIS was in 2017 caught up in an elephant poaching scandal after three of its members were arrested by the Wildlife Intelligence Unit at a roadblock in Makalamabedi, Boteti Sub District. The DIS had been on the radar of the Wildlife Intelligence Unit for sometime following a tip-off that the intelligence agency had gone rogue and was part of an international diamond and ivory smuggling racket.
After a long surveillance stake-out, the Wildlife Intelligence Unit allegedly mounted a roadblock in Makalamabedi where they lay in wait for the three agents who were driving from Ngamiland.
The agents who were arrested with a huge sports bag containing two sliced elephant tusks allegedly asked to be allowed to phone DIS Director General Isaac Kgosi, but were denied contact with their boss and were handed over to the Botswana Police Service.
An operation by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ anti-poaching unit last year uncovered a secret stash of elephant tusks at a DIS camp in Ngwashe, near Nata village in northern Botswana.
This has added credence to claims that the DIS under former Director General Isaac Kgosi was involved in a rogue diamond and ivory smuggling operation.
Investigations have confirmed that the Department of Wildlife and National Parks which is responsible for keeping records of all ivory storage facilities in Botswana was unaware of the DISS stockpile at Ngwashe.
Botswana is among nine countries including the UK, the US, Uganda and Germany that signed a declaration during African Elephant Summit held in Gaborone in 2013 for the publication and audit of ivory stockpiles
It has further emerged that the DIS could neither provide a chain of custody for the ivory cache nor explain why it kept such a large number of tusks in a warehouse in the bush, in violation of standard procedure.
It is understood that the DIS officer at the scene referred wildlife department officials’ questions to Isaac Kgosi, the former DISS head who was sacked last year.
In his affidavit, BDF’s Major General Seikano revealed details of the fight between the BDF and Isaac Kgosi over elephant poaching hotspots.
Seikano recalls that sometime in 2017, he engaged Kgosi to figure out if he had any deployable intelligence and surveillance capabilities to support Border and Anti Poaching efforts in general in the area of Shaile, Lenyanti and Savuti.
“The team from the DIS comprised of the Director Isaac Kgosi, Retired Captain Simalumba, Retired Major Kopano Kopano Mochotlhi, Mr Matenere and retired Warrant Officer 1, Setshego.”
Seikano said the area is identified as one of the elephant poaching hotspots and falls within the jurisdiction of the BDF anti poaching mandate which is directly under his area of operation and supervision.
“I state that my engagement of the DIS and Director General Isaac Kgosi was so that they can provide information and intelligence to the deployed troops under the Botswana Defence Force, the joint task force in boarder and anti poaching operation in order to facilitate the deployed forced to effectively carry out and deliver on our mandate as the Botswana Defence Force.”
Seikano says Kgosi embraced the idea to support the BDF’s operations and he arranged for a meeting with his head quarters which involved the BDF and DIS teams, the purpose of which was to engage Kgosi and his team to understand the problem.
“I state that after being duly briefed by me and my staff, the two teams planned a trip to tour the area of concern and due to work commitments, I could not make the trip and instead availed BDF team led by Colonel G. Bogatsu who stood in for me and undertook the trip with Director General Isaac kgosi and his team,” states Seikano.
The trip to the operational area having been completed, he never received feedback from Kgosi, but instead he was visited by some DIS officers at his office with a map in which they had already demarcated the Shaile, Lenyanti and Savuti hotspots and tried to convince him to hand it over to them to conduct anti-poaching operations in the area.
“I confirm and categorically state that I flatly refused to hand over my mandate to them, and emphasised that all I required of them was to facilitate me to conduct anti poaching operations effectively providing information and intelligence on poaching syndicates operating in the area,” said Seikano.
According to Seikano, a further follow-up persuasion mission to hand over hotspots area to them was done by Brigadier (retired) Macheng on two further occasions and he still stood his ground and maintained his refusal to hand over the anti poaching mandate.
Macheng who was one of Khama’s trusted hands was redeployed to the Office of the President to head the Anti-terrorism Unit only five months before Khama stepped down as president.
Macheng’s redeployment was one of Khama’s key intelligence appointments on the eve of his retirement, raising fears that Khama wanted to exert control behind the scene after his retirement from office.