Wednesday, June 19, 2024

‘If I tell you who sells drugs, you won’t believe it’ – DISS boss

The Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services, Brigadier Peter Magosi, has joined the list of senior government officials who tease tantalising information and stop short of providing full details.

One of the questions that Magosi had to answer when he appeared before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee related to the epidemic of drug abuse in Botswana. In his response, Magosi provided a wide-angle view of how the problem manifests itself. He started by stating something that suggests that both the sellers and DISS are evenly matched at one level. He said that while he, as an intelligence person, can know people who deal drugs, the latter themselves know and exploit internal weaknesses within Botswana’s intelligence system.

While “dealer” is ordinarily used in a generic sense to refer to people in the drug trade, it actually has a more specific meaning. The dealers are the street peddlers who are the point of contact with retail consumers and are supplied by drug lords who lord it over whole battalions of dealers. Magosi said that there is no real benefit in arresting dealers – that is because their power is severely limited and they can be easily replaced. Real benefit, he added, can be obtained from arresting the drug lords. While few in numbers, a single drug lord can operate in a large area and have many dealers working for him.

The DISS boss lamented that his agency and the Botswana Police Service are themselves not equal to the task of arresting the drug problem and to that end, need the support of members of the public.

There is another agency whose role is ordinarily under-emphasised but is equally important: the Botswana Unified Revenue Services. Magosi recalled a conversation with someone he only identified as “the Commissioner” and from what he said afterwards would have been referring to the BURS Commissioner General. He mentioned two incidents in which trucks with drugs hidden inside them entered Botswana, cleared customs with no incident. They were thoroughly searched at a Namibian border gate whereupon the drugs were found. In particular reference to this and similar incidents, Magosi recalls telling the Commissioner that “There is something that’s missing here.”

It was at this point that Magosi teased a revelation that captivated his audience. He said that if he could tell the PAC Chairman, Wynter Mmolotsi, the names of the prominent people who are drug lords, “you wouldn’t believe.” Mmolotsi responded with a quip asking Magosi to try him.

Magosi’s predecessor and founding DISS Director General, Isaac Kgosi, would also tease such nuggets of information but never provided full details to fill the information gaps he had created. During one PAC hearing, he said that prominent people were involved in Satanism – which, in a wholly different context, was tangentially confirmed by a prominent who publicly recounted first-hand experience with a prominent person who happened to be a Satanist. To be clear, the lawyer didn’t mention any names and you needed to be hardwired to the grapevine of Gaborone’s cologned social circles to know whom he was referring to. On occasion, President Mokgweetsi Masisi threatens to reveal damaging information about his predecessor, Ian Khama, but five years later, has yet to do so.

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