Thursday, October 28, 2021

Inside the “secret” file that got Sonny Serite arrested

Sunday Standard investigation team has reconstructed the “secret” file which the Office of the President is trying to keep away from the public eyes under the protective veil of “national security.” 

Contrary to speculations that journalist Sonny Serite was arrested for breaking a story on corruption at Botswana Railways and attendant investigations by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, Sunday Standard investigations have established that Serite became a marked man after laying his hands on a secret file that presented a peep show in how the Office of the President abuses public funds to mollycoddle the boss’ pets who have been singled out for special treatment.

Sunday Standard also turned up information on how the favouritism at the Office of the President has fostered a sense of resentment and separation de-motivating employees and damaging team unity.

The file which was kept at the registry of the Office of the President contains personal information on Tsaone Nkarabang, one of President Khama’s Private Secretaries.

Top of the file is a guarantee letter written on an official Botswana Coat of Arms binding Botswana Government to an open ended medical fee bill by specialists that Nkarabang would have to visit for his treatment and rehabilitation after he had an accident while on a private frolic. 

Nkarabang was not on duty when he sustained major injuries while on a leisure outing riding quad bikes.

A human resource specialist who spoke to the Sunday Standard explained that because he was not on duty, Nkarabang’s options were limited to using his medical aid or using the general government facilities that are open to all Batswana free of charge.

Instead the Office of President volunteered to pay for his medical bills. It is not clear who issued such an instruction. 

It is important to point out that while quad biking is one of President Khama’s favourite pastimes, the president was not present when the accident happened.

One of the alleged boss’ pets accompanying Nkarabang when the accident happened was the President’s Senior Private Secretary, Brigadier George Tlhalerwa.

Information pieced together  by Sunday Standard after talking to a few people familiar with the file and attending a court session where Serite was denied bail, points to the fact that the file contained what for a journalist would be a treasure trove.

Other than detailing the doctors’ diagnosis, there is a litany of invoices billed to the Government by the medical facilities that attended Nkarabang.

An insider said what attracted attention to the file were the exorbitant fees that the doctors were charging government every time the special patient went for medical attention. Payment Receipts point this out. 

It has also transpired that inside the Office of the President before Serite was arrested there was a low key revolt and resentment among some junior officers who felt very strongly that there was no need for government to be footing the billing in the manner that it did because Nkarabang was not on official duty when he sustained his injuries.

A records officer at the Office of the President, Abueng Sebola has been charged for stealing the file and leaking it to Serite, ostensibly with the intension of getting the contents, especially the medical bills into the public domain through publishing in a newspaper.

On Friday evening a Magistrate Court in Gaborone Central denied Serite and Sebola bail saying police needed to be given more time to do investigations.

This was after the investigating officer; Detective Assistant Superintendent Mogotsi Rankhudu told the court that there are some file contents still missing after the state retrieved some documents.

The incident comes at the time when there is a growing perception  at the government enclave that President Khama has a penchant for playing favourites  and that his appointments to senior public offices are based more on favouritism than merit.

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