- Senior politician implicated in the transactions
- “The Butterfly’s” house raided
- BURS, DIS raid Bash Carriers
- Bash Carriers tax questioned over P400m contract
- Bela Bela Quarries link to Debswana probed
LAWRENCE SERETSE & LETLHOGILE MPUANG
Law enforcement agencies are working around the clock to penetrate an intricate web of closely connected allies and businesses associated with former spy chief Isaac Kgosi as part of their investigations into the theft and embezzlement of public funds involving billions of pula over the past decade.
The Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) alongside the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) on Monday (yesterday) searched and seized assets of local businessman and owner of Bash Carriers, Otshegeditse Basiami on tax related offences.
During a busy day for BURS and the DIS, at midnight (Monday) a standoff arose during yet another raid in Broadhurst at the premises of Wilheminah’s mothers (the former employee and alleged concubine of Kgosi’s known as “the Butterfly,” ) and at a facility connected to owners of Bango Trading, a civil works company. This publication has not yet been able to establish what was seized from the plots at time of press. The multi pronged probe is said to implicate various high profile public officials and ministers including a senior specially elected MP, name known to this publication, on allegations of corruption and money laundering. Given the time of the breaking news this publication was unable to reach the specially elected member of parliamant for comment.
Information gathered by this publication in respect of Bash Carriers indicates that despite the company benefiting from contracts worth an estimated half a billion pula, company and personal tax returns filed by Basiami fall far short of disclosing their vast revenue stream.
In the lastest round of search and seizures by BURS a raid took place at Basiami’s business property in Mmamashia on Monday morning which lasted into the late afternoon. The Botswana Gazette has been informed that part of the reason for the day long raid was due to officials having difficulties in locating Basiami, who was only brought to his property by investigating officials in the late afternoon. After a tour and search of the area, the investigating officers turned their attention to some of Basiami’s employees, who were interviewed on the company’s business operations at which undisclosed documents and records were seized.
The Mmamashia business property is a farm sparsely littered with an unidentified number of cattle and numerous heavy duty trucks and construction machinery worth millions.
Though officials at the scene refused to answer any questions by this publication, DISS Director Peter Magosi informed The Botswana Gazette that his organisation was part of those who took part in the raid, but would divulge no further details on the subject due to national security concerns.
“Yes, I am very aware of the raid that took place at Basiami’s property, but at the moment there is little I can reveal as we are still investigating,” said Magosi on Monday afternoon.
Magosi did not deny or confirm whether the latest raid was in relation to the ongoing Issac Kgosi investigations, and as a result of last week’s raids on Kgosi. “I would not want to comment on that one, simply because that can compromise our investigations, so I will not reveal anything regarding that.”
“All I can say is that this is part of our strategy. I said it last year that we have priority areas that we are focusing on, and corruption and issues of tax are part of those. We are happy with what we have been able to achieve so far and Batswana will soon see the results of that. We will in the near future move on to our next priority area which is drugs,” he added.
Bash Carriers is a road construction company which was funded under the former President Ian Khama’s Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP). The company was awarded a road project tender between Tshesebe village and Masunga through Mosojane at a sum of BWP 430,047,693.11. The tender was subsequently terminated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications citing gross incompetence after the project collapsed before it could reach 40% progress. Bash Carriers was also engaged to undertake projects for Botswana Housing Corporation.
Late last year, Francistown Industrial Court issued an Order attaching the machinery of Bash Carriers after it failed to pay contractors involved in the multi million pula project.
More than 199 former employees at Bash Carriers had approached the Industrial Court in an urgent application seeking to attach the machinery of their former employer with the assistance of deputy sheriffs as their employer could not be located. Bash Couriers left hundreds of its workers stranded without their August, September and October 2018 salaries and unpaid severance benefits.
The employees were owed over million of pula. Information reaching The Botswana Gazette indicates that the DIS is also investigating transactions between former executive members of Debswana in connection to their dealing with the DIS in 2010 when a company owned by Kgosi, Silver Shadows was paid P200 000 by the mining giant while the Managing Director Blackie Marole co-owned Bela Bela Quarries with him. Bela Bela is also under investigation.
Marole had financial interests with Kgosi in another tourism company named Sediba Properties. This publication understands that the web of investigation is intended to expand.