Monday, March 20, 2023

Licenced to kill? DIS goes rogue

Documents detailing how for six years the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) command presided over a cover up of murder in their ranks reveals the extent to which the spy agency has gone rogue and become so powerful that that those with oversight are too intimidated to check its incursions on liberty.

The documents, which have been passed to the Sunday Standard reveal for the first time how the DISS command lied to the public, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and the court and colluded with Immigration officers to cover up a botched assassination attempt which resulted in a DISS agent fatally shooting her partner and mortally wounding the assassination target ÔÇô a Zimbabwean businessman. “Maria o Mpolaile” (Maria you have killed me). Those were the last words from DISS agent Daniel Moilwa as he lay on a pool of his blood on the floor with a bullet on his chest. Next to Moilwa was Blessing Effort Mukwani who operated a dry cleaning shop in Gaborone.

His body was riddled with pistol bullets and drenched in blood. Court records prepared by Mukwani who survived the shooting incident suggest that the DISS had tried to assassinate him in a bid to cover up corruption in their ranks. Facing illegal deportation from Botswana, by DISS agents, the Zimbabwean investor had allegedly bribed his way out and later went on to report the case to Broadhurst Police Station. According to the records, After killing her partner, Daniel Moilwa, the DISS agent known only as Maria tried to finish Mukwani off but had already used up the bullets in his pistol. Mukwani shouted at the DISS officer: “you shot him. You killed him.” She tried to pull the trigger “on me and a jamming sound to signal empty was produced”, states the court records. Mukwani who was dizzy following the loss of blood managed to stumble away and collapsed among street vendors stationed nearby. He was picked up by Netcare 991 Botswana. According to a Netcare patient report form signed on 19th November 2008 by David Gibson, Mukwani had suffered multiple gunshots.

This is confirmed in a Princess Marina Hospital Medical record of the same date. The DISS command then conspired to protect their agent and framed Mukwani who was held at the Maximum Security Prison for 180 days on trumped up murder charges. A charge sheet dated 25th November 2008 signed by K. Dineku from DPP charges Mukwani with one count of murder. While awaiting trial in prison Mukwani tried to smuggle out a letter to President Lt Gen Ian Khama explaining how he had been framed by the DISS. An additional charge was slapped on him for contravening the Prison’s Act. The DISS apparently aware that the charges would not stick, moved swiftly to have Mukwani deported and declared prohibited immigrant. “A notice of Determination as Prohibited Immigrant” against Mukwani was prepared and signed by immigration officer T. Mosimanegape on 28th January 2009 even before Mukwani could appear for murder. On 7th May 2009 he appeared at the Broadhurst Magistrate Court where the then DPP Director Leatile Dambe issued a direction to “stop and discontinue criminal proceedings against Mukwani.” Cleared of the murder charge, Mukwani was immediately whisked out of the country.

The DISS and the Immigration Departments ignored a court order against Mukwani’s deportation in an apparent bid to frustrate investigations into the alleged assassination attempt against the Zimbabwean businessman and subsequent killing of a DISS agent. As soon as he got to Zimbabwe, Mukwani on 28th May 2009 filed a complaint with the High Court in Lobatse and the Intelligence Tribunal which was supposed to make part of the report which would be submitted to the Parliamentary Oversight Committee. Sunday Standard investigation however revealed that the Intelligence Tribunal did not pursue the matter and a report detailing the case, which was supposed to be presented to the Parliament oversight committee, has since gone missing.

The then minister of Justice, Defence and Security, Dikgakgamatso Seretse, told the media at the time that he was awaiting a report from the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs on Mukwani’s deportation. “I have asked for a report on the investigation because he was sent back by the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs. But I also want a report on how a person accused of murder can be sent back. So I am to receive a report to that effect. That is the matter that is also being investigated,” he said. The Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs spokesperson, Lebogang Bok, confirmed after the deportation that they relied on the Immigration Act to deport Mukwani. In his court records, Mukwani traces his first brush with the DIS to 10th November 2008 when he was released from prison after doing time for obtaining by false pretences.

The presiding magistrate in the case Oahile Linah Mokibe had highlighted that Mukwani was eligible for release without repatriation because the court had ordered that Mukwani should compensate the victim and had not specified a time frame. Besides, Mukwani had already notified the High Court that he would be appealing both the conviction and the sentence and the date for the appeal hearing was slated for June 29th 2009 before Justice Isaac Lesetedi. The inmate release procedure for foreigners, however, requires them to report first to immigration authorities for verification of work and resident permits. Mukwani who operated a dry cleaning shop in Gaborone reported to the immigration office at Loapi House in Gaborone where he was debriefed by a DIS agent cum immigration officer whose name he only remembers as Maria.

Mukwani says while at Loapi House, he was interrogated by four DISS officers at gun point and held for hours. The officers threatened to deport him and refused to let him see a lawyer. He was released after bribing the officers with P2000 which they were supposed to share among the four of them, P500 a piece.

Mukwani they headed to the Broadhurst Magistrate Court and reported the incident. At Broadhurst Magistrate Court, he was given a court order which he was supposed to present to the DISS and immigration officers in case they tried to deport him. A few days later, the DISS officer who he only remembers as Maria from the immigration office showed up at his house armed apparently to assassinate him. As he tried to run away, he was held down by Moilwa, the DISS agent. In the ensuing scuffle as he tried to break free, Maria fired a number of shot at him and one missed him and killed Moilwa.


Read this week's paper