Monday, March 8, 2021

Intelligence phone data probe; the plot thickens

Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander Gaolatlhe Galebotswe has distanced himself from the practice within the intelligence community relating to the cooperation between the BDF Military Intelligence and the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) which involves exchange or loaning of operational equipment or a personnel between the two security organs.

Galebotswe was responding to Commanding officer of the BDF Ground Forces Brigadier Peter Magosi and former military intelligence spy Dzikimani Mothobi’s application in which they seek an order directing their lawyers to interview Permanent Secretary to the President Eric Molale and head of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Isaac Kgosi before they could appear before a body of inquiry. The board of inquiry is investigating circumstances which led to the disappearance of some electronic gadgets from Military Intelligence Unit stores between 2006 and 2012.

In his replying affidavit to Magosi and Mothobi’s founding affidavits, Galebotswe says there are no circulars, standing orders, memoranda or any official instrument governing the practice that involves exchange of operational equipment or personnel between the BDF and the Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS. In his founding affidavit, Magosi had stated that “…I know from my experience as Chief of Military Intelligence and Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence respectively that a practice has always been in existence relating to cooperation within the intelligence community and the exchange or loaning of operational equipment or personnel.”

But in response to Magosi’s statement, Galebotswe states that he is not “privy to the practice as alleged by the First Respondent (Magosi) and he is put to strict proof thereof.” Magosi also demanded that Galebotswe provide him and Mothobi with any document regulating this cooperation (between BDF Military Intelligence and DIS) and provide a written narrative on the matter. “One of the reliefs I intend to seek in due course is for an order directing the Second Respondent (Galebotswe) to provide this written narrative detailing rights, obligations and understanding governing the relationship between the BDF Military Intelligence, the DIS and other Government departs, particularly the Office of the Permanent Secretary to the President relating to loaning or exchange of operational equipment and deployment if personnel,” stated Magosi. However, Galebotswe insists that “…the Respondents have no knowledge of the practice talked of by the Applicant and cannot be expected to narrate any such.

It is clear that the First Applicant (Magosi) professes knowledge of some practice hence the onus lies on him to narrate and prove existence of same.” Rejecting Magosi and Mothobi’s lawyers request to interview Kgosi and Molale, Galebotswe said “it is clear, in terms of Board of Enquiry rule 8 that the Applicants and their legal representatives have right to challenge anything implicating them by questions, testimony by self or calling witnesses on their behalf. At the same time, the Applicants cannot claim to have any fear that the Board will deny them time when require same to appropriate any new evidence that may be led before the Board.” According to Galebotswe, the testimony of Kgosi and Molale and other witnesses is not against Magosi and Mothobi, but simply intended to address the whereabouts of the equipment. Galebotswe also said that the reason he insists that Kgosi and Molale who are key witnesses must not be interviewed was in the spirit of fairness to avoid influencing or tempering with such witnesses before the inquiry. “It was only reasonable that the affected persons and the Board hear the evidence for the first time at the same time.

The Board likewise had not heard or seen any statement, documents or exhibits relating to the enquiry which was yet to unfold before them,” states Galebotswe. Galebotswe denied that Magosi and Mothobi had been singled out in the Convening Order as persons affected or likely to be affected by the findings of the Board. He explained that the inquiry is not about Magosi and Mothobi but just that they may, by virtue of them having been at the intelligence unit and involved in intelligence operations, ordinarily be implicated by the findings of the Board. “The applicants were not and are not charged or accused of any wrong doing, hence, it appears to me, upon advise by my attorneys, that the principle of prima facie case against the Applicant’s is unfortunately, of no relevance and application in this matter,” said Galebotswe.

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