Saturday, September 26, 2020

Minister, Judge, Debswana MD, DCEC in bribery smear campaign?

Lobatse High Court judge, Key Dingake’s private life will be opened up to the public this week following a running smear campaign based on unsubstantiated suggestions that he has received a P1, 5 million bribe.

The allegations, which were later disproved, first surfaced earlier this year after Justice Dingake sold his house to Lands and Housing Minister Nonofo Molefhi’s company, Academy of Business Management for P1, 5 million. The deed of transfer has already been made in favour of the minister who has since moved into the house.

It is understood that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) launched an investigation against Justice Dingake earlier this year when proceeds from the sale of the house were credited to his account. This followed false accusations that the money was a bribe from former Permanent Secretary Elvidge Mhlauli. Justice Dingake had set aside a December 2007 Village Magistrate Court verdict that found Mhlauli guilty of two counts of abuse of office and one count of giving false information to the Commissioner of Oaths.

Although the DCEC cleared Justice Dingake of any wrong doing, they opened investigations against the judge again in August this year still in respect of the proceeds from the sale of his house that was credited to his account ÔÇô in what is believed to be a witch hunt.

This followed another complaint by a disgruntled former Debswana employee, Donald Gaetsaloe, who suggested that the money credited to Justice Dingake’s account may have been a bribe from Debswana Managing Director Blackie Marole. This was after Gaetsaloe lost his case of unfair dismissal filed with Justice Dingake against Debswana Diamond Company. Gaetsaloe went further to suggest that the sale of the house by Justice Dingake to Minister Molefhi’s company was a simulated transaction in an attempt by Justice Dingake to cover up the bribery. Gaetsaloe is the Managing Director of African Alliance.

The DCEC investigations, however, cleared Justice Dingake, Blackie Marole and Minister Molefhi of any wrong doing. Gaetsaloe is, however, unhappy with the findings of the DCEC and has filed an affidavit with High Court judge, Justice Manametsi Gaongalelwe, claiming that the DCEC “has colluded with the suspects”.

Gaetsaloe’s damning allegations are, however, a result of what he calls “a hamstrung investigation through informal means” and are based by and large on conjecture.

Justice Gaongalelwe on Tuesday, however, ordered that Mascom should give Gaetsaloe’s attorney’s access to all monthly bills in respect of calls and SMS text messages made from Justice Dingake and Blackie Marole’s cellphones. Debswana Mining Company was also ordered to furnish Gaetsaloe’s lawyers copies of all monthly bills received by the diamond mining company in respect of calls made from Marole’s phone numbers.

Barclays Bank has also been ordered to make available to Gaetsaloe’s lawyers the loan agreement they entered into with Justice Dingake and documents relating to the history of the loan. A similar order was made in respect of
the First National Bank of Botswana.

And the DCEC was ordered to provide Gaetsaloe with documents relating to his complaint against Justice Dingake while Botswana Unified Revenue Service was ordered to provide all tax returns submitted by Justice Dingake.

Justice Dingake has allegedly been the subject of smear reports that for some time he has been the subject of a smear campaign by the country’s security apparatus who believe that he is sympathetic to the opposition Botswana Congress Party (BCP).

Dingake is related to BCP founding president, Mike Dingake. Reports of a smear campaign against Dingake first surfaced earlier this year when he was replaced by a three-man bench in a high profile case that was filed by banished ruling party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, challenging his suspension by President Ian Khama.

Under the new system of judicial case management, which is supposed to be an impersonal system, cases are automatically allocated to judges as they are registered.

The case was allocated to Justice Dingake under the system, but was later taken out of his chambers under mysterious circumstances.

When asked by the media whether Justice Dingake was pushed, Register of the High Court, Godfrey Nthomiwa, said he did not know the reason why the case was moved from Dingake to a panel of three judges.

“I do not think he was pushed. What I do know is that the Chief Justice exercised his powers under Section Six of the High Court act and allocated the case to a panel of judges,” Nthomiwa said.

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