Saturday, October 23, 2021

TK throws out DIS operatives from shooting range

Tensions between the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism which has been simmering behind the scenes boiled over recently when the ministry kicked out the spy unit from its training camps.

There are even serious claims that the Ministry has issued an order instructing DIS to stop being involved in anti poaching activities and focus on its core mandate.

DIS has been using the Ministry’s training camps for purposes of combat training by its officers since 2009. The training facilities are located in Lonetree Wildlife Camp in Gantsi and another one in Makgadikgadi. Matters came to a head after a water tank belonging to the ministry went missing after it had been left in the bush by wildlife officers who intended to tow it later.

Sunday Standard has turned up information that the ministry suspected that the DIS officers towed away the tank. DIS is said to have denied knowledge of the tank in question.

But serious claims have emerged showing that the missing tank is at a DIS warehouse in Sebele and its plate numbers have been removed.

Sources also claim that the relationship between the Ministry and DIS broke down irreparably after the former accused the spy agency of being involved in some questionable poaching activities.

The Ministry which has now beefed-up its own intelligence unit has since asked the DIS to stop being involved in anti poaching activities and focus on its mandate. The ministry’s intelligence has also attracted scores of former officers from the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and some disgruntled operatives from DIS.

Sunday Standard has also turned up information showing that DIS has approached the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) to block mass exodus of officers who want to join Tshekedi Khama’s ministry as it offers attractive packages and better conditions of service.

DIS Director Isaac Kgosi’s phone rang unanswered while Tshekedi asked to be sent a text message but had not responded at the time of going to press. The ministry is also yet to respond to a questionnaire from this publication.

Recently Sunday Standard reported that DIS had been caught up in an elephant poaching and diamond smuggling scandal after three of its members were arrested by the Wildlife Intelligence Unit at a roadblock in Makalamabedi, Boteti Sub District, on Thursday.

The Minister of Wildlife and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama, has vowed that he will stop at nothing to protect Botswana’s elephant population and the arrest of the DIS agents is seen as a demonstration that there will be no sacred cows in his campaign to protect Botswana’s natural resources.

Sources close to the arrest told Sunday Standard that as part of Tshekedi’s crackdown on poaching, the DIS has been on the radar of the Wildlife Intelligence Unit for sometime following a tip-off that the intelligence agency had gone rogue and was part of an international diamond and ivory smuggling racket. 

After a long surveillance stake-out, the Wildlife Intelligence Unit allegedly mounted a roadblock in Makalamabedi where they lay in wait for the three agents ÔÇô names known to this publication – who were driving from Ngamiland. 

The trio, one a former police officer, another an ex-wildlife officer and the third who joined the DIS as a civilian claimed that they were on an anti-poaching operation, but could not account for the ivory in their possession.

The agents who were arrested with a huge sports bag containing two sliced elephant tusks allegedly asked to be allowed to phone Kgosi, but were denied contact with their boss and were handed over to the Botswana Police Service.

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