The Minister of Justice Defense and Security, Ramadeluka Seretse, has refused to disclose the number of security agents with equipment that can intercept electronic mail and telephone conversations in Botswana.
“In the interest of National Security, I cannot disclose the information with regard to which institutions have such equipment,” said Seretse in parliament last week.
He was answering a question from Dumelang Saleshando.
The Member of Parliament for Gaborone Central wanted to know which security agencies, between Botswana Defense Force, Directorate of Intelligence and Security, Botswana Police and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, can intercept phone, telephone and computer conversations.
Saleshando further sought clarification on the number of applications made by security agencies seeking permission to conduct investigations of a personal or intrusive nature in the past 12 months. He also wanted to know the number of applications that included interception of telephonic communications by each of the agencies; the number of warrants that were granted and the main reasons advanced by the courts in cases where the warrants were not granted.
Seretse said there were no warrants granted for such requests as none of the security agents under his ministry made any applications for the interception of telephonic communications.
“However, in the normal cause of investigations, security agencies have submitted and continue to submit requests to the courts for release of recorded data, telephonic, electronic or otherwise as provided for, under the provisions of the law,” he said.
Saleshando’s question comes in the wake of recent media reports that a local businessman is suing Botswana Police for refusing to pay him after he supplied them with spying equipment that would enable them to eavesdrop on cell phone and electronic mail conversations. Government had engaged the businessman to supply them with two second spying machines worth $US 700 000 each.
The spying equipment was to enable the security agents to intercept mobile telephone calls and internet communication. Local cellular phone service providers, however, migrated from the frequency that could be decrypted by the equipment.
Now government is refusing to pay, and the supplier is seeking P15 million in payments.