Sunday, October 17, 2021

Spy agency surrenders its weapons of war to BDF

The new Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security, Peter Magosi, is said to have handed over an arsenal of weapons of war that the spy agency had purchased over a decade to the Botswana Defence Force.

After the formation of DIS in 2008, its leadership (which basically means founding Director General, Isaac Kgosi) took a conscious decision to arm the spy agency to the teeth. Part of the agency’s arsenal was literally in full display a few years ago when some plainclothes agents escorted bank robbers to the Village Magistrate Court in Gaborone. The agents (some of them really young boys) were brandishing automatic rifles, wearing balaclavas and harassing press photographers. It would appear though that under Magosi, the agents are going to have to make do with smaller firearms. Sources say that weapons of war (like AK 47 and FN rifles) that have been in DIS armoury under Kgosi’s leadership have now been handed over to the BDF armoury at the Sir Seretse Khama Barracks in Mogoditshane “where they belong.”

From what Sunday Standard learns, it is not abnormal for spy agencies to have these kind of weapons because, on occasion, there are operations that require agents to carry really big guns. South African robbers ÔÇô some of whom carry AK47s – have been known to ply their trade in Botswana and local law enforcement officers have to be able to repel an attack with even bigger guns. However, a problem arises when an assortment of highly sophisticated military weapons are stockpiled in the armoury of a spy agency, which is what DIS is said to have done over the years. The DIS Act itself has no provision for building an arsenal of weapons of war and last year when the Prison Act was being amended, the Gabane-Mankgodi MP, Major General Pius Mokgware, raised grave concern about general failure by the Ministry of Justice, Defence and Security to regulate possession of weapons. Mokgware, who was part of the BDF high command at the time of his retirement, said that prison guards carry weapons of war like AK 47 rifles when there is no provision for such in the existing and proposed law. The MP said that a problem could arise when prison guards go on strike and in the ensuing chaos, gain access to the same AK 47s.

“In such circumstances, the only people who can quell the strike are soldiers but those soldiers would be using the same weapons as the striking prison guards. The same goes for the police service which also has AK 47s. If police officers go on strike, soldiers would be called in but those soldiers would be fully aware of the fact that people participating in the strike they are trying to put down carry the same type of weapons as them. This situation is untidy,” said the MP who, in his parliamentary debate, had cautioned about the danger of creating “another army.”

He also expressed grave concern about the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) having weapons of war. Some other people have are concerned about DWNP’s evolution into an army of sorts.

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