Thursday, May 6, 2021

Seretse’s graft case ÔÇô curious details that may not see light

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had lined up 44 witnesses to testify that Minister of Trade and Industry, Vincent Seretse had links with Serala (Pty) Ltd, the company that was granted the multimillion Pula Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) Nteletsa 11 tender and the distribution of beMobile air time while Seretse was still BTC Chief Executive Officer.

The shady details, however, may never make it to the public domain because DPP was on Friday forced to withdraw the corruption case against the minister after one of their two star witnesses died mysteriously while the other left the country for Sweden. Court records passed to the Sunday Standard however reveal that Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mabua Mabua was billed to take the stand to testify that “Mr Seretse was one of Serala’s referees for Nteletsa 11 tender and further that BTC employees’ CVs were submitted by Serala for Nteletsa 11 tender. The witness further stated that the awarding tender for distribution was done by BTC Management to initially 4 companies and later 3 without going through the board. The board however raised issues with regard to a company called Serala (Pty) Ltd which the board felt did not posses required capacity.

After corruption charges were dropped against Seretse, the assistant minister now faces a single count of abuse of office and particulars of offence states: on 8th March while still BTC Chief Executive Officer, Seretse “in abuse of the authority of his office, knowingly and without lawful authority arbitrarily directed Moatshe Lebekwe and Berndt Astrom to recruit eight BTC employees to offer their services to a company called Serala (Pty) Ltd with their curriculum vitae and to further enter into letters of intent for employment with the said company whilst they were still employees of BTC and the said proposition by Seretse was at the expense of BTC, an act which was prejudicial to the rights and interests of BTC.”

However, Berndt Astrom has since left for Sweden while Moatshe Lebekwe died under mysterious circumstances. An earlier charge of conflict of interest preferred against the assistant minister, will however not be pursed. Another witness was to take the witness stand against the assistant minister is Leon Knoetze Senior Risk Advisory Manager with Delloitte & Touch├® who was engaged by BTC “to forensic audit upon which among other things he discovered what he termed “conflict of interest” by Vincent Seretse on the beMobile and Nteletsa 11 projects.” Knoetze was to produce his report and findings as part of his evidence.

State prosecutor Mosweu Ditlodi last week told Gaborone High Court judge Bengbame Sechele that they are withdrawing the charges against Seretse and his co accused as two key witnesses on the matter are not available to stand trial.

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