Speaking before Parliament this week the Hon. Minister of Defence Justice and Security noted that since its establishment just under two years ago, the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) has managed to successfully deliver on its mandate by providing timely and accurate information to decision makers, while effectively cooperating with other security organs, both nationally and internationally. In so doing the Directorate has upheld its mandate, which is to identify and investigate individuals and entities that pose a threat to Botswana’s security and tender advice to Government and/or take action to counter the said threats in order to keep the nation safe.
Among the Directorate’s successes, the Minister noted that it has uncovered a number of organised networks operating in Botswana that pose a threat to the nation. He further reported that such groupings have been found to have been engaged in such nefarious operations as terrorist related activities, fraud and money laundering, drug trafficking and distribution, human smuggling and trafficking, white collar crime and official corruption, weapons smuggling and distribution, illicit diamond dealings and corporate tax evasion.
According to the Minister, it has been discovered that such networks are often well organized, carrying out their activities with a high degree of sophistication that requires law enforcement agencies to pool their resources. In this respect the DIS has often acted jointly with, and/or provided crucial intelligence and leads to, other agencies such as the DCEC, the Police, and Revenue Service.
To further underscore the DIS contribution, the Minister provided Members of Parliament with a synopsis of the recorded cases by category, noting that:
a) The DIS has identified an upsurge of activities of radical groups or activists who are being prepared or have been prepared by way of indoctrination and/or training for extremism. These groups have also shown an interest in the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament.┬á Some residents of this country could be involved in this development, and the situation is being monitored accordingly.
b) In the area of fraudulent activities, some suspects were arrested, prosecuted and convicted saving government millions of pula. Some individuals are currently awaiting trial. The composition of the teams involved in these criminal activities includes Batswana acting jointly with foreign nationals.
c) There are indications that public institutions and commercial banks are targets of fraudulent acts, posing serious threat to the economy and by extension our national security. Likewise the laundering of illegal proceeds is also a concern.
d) The trafficking of drugs, especially hard drugs, in the country is also a concern. Several individuals and networks have been uncovered involving Batswana and foreign nationals. Such drugs are widely distributed and used in Botswana particularly in our schools. The other area of concern has been the unauthorised distribution of generic pharmaceutical drugs by some local pharmacies acting in concert with some medical practitioners to unsuspecting patients.
e) Several networks involved in the smuggling of persons into and/or through Botswana to other destinations were identified. Some people and business entities are currently under investigation.
f) Working closely with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, several cases of white collar crime and corruption were uncovered. These involved public officers acting in concert with non-public officers.
g) It has been established by the DIS that weapons of various categories do find their way into Botswana. These weapons have been used at several stages in the commission of robberies at various businesses and residential places.
h) Working closely with the Botswana Police Service, several people have been arrested for robberies and possession of unlicensed firearms.
i) There are several cases of illicit diamond trading and smuggling currently under investigation.
j) Several companies and business entities have been investigated and found to be operating illegally and evading the payment of Value Added Tax to the tune of millions of pula.
Investigations are continuing.
Notwithstanding its successes, the Minister further reported to Parliament that DIS continues to face many challenges in terms of its operational capacity. He also noted an urgent need for enhanced public education and awareness of security and safety related issues. In this context, he stated that acquisition of offices, residential houses, security equipment and the building of communication infrastructure, will take a bigger share of the DIS budget during the coming financial year. He, however, expressed his full confidence that DIS projects proposed for the Development Plan will help build its capacity to an appropriate level.
*Dr Ramsay is Deputy Permanent Secretary, (Media) for BGCIS