The head of DISS needs a conviction in the Matsheka case badly but the evidence seems tenuous so far
The DISS currently has both its Deputy Directors on suspension. The heads of the Botswana Police Service and the DCEC are currently on suspension too. The DPP is without a Director and the Attorney General has been given a month’s extension of contract to wind up his affairs.
Insiders have told The Gazette that Peter Magosi has orchestrated the leadership vacuum in these key national security areas and taken advantage of the silence from the Office of the President to ensure his relevance and grip on the security sector.
The Court of Appeal threw a lifeline at him last week when it overturned the acquittal of “Butterfly.” However, on the 7th of August, Justice Ketlogetswe dealt Magosi a vital blow in his gambit to remain relevant by releasing the MP for Lobatse, Thapelo Matsheka, from DISS and police custody by declaring his detention unlawful.
Court papers filed on behalf of the DISS opposing Matsheka’s release revealed lack of evidence against the MP, the speculative nature of the allegation and a lack of legal guidance and input by the DPP, the AG and the government legal officers within the security and law enforcement structures.
Goitseone Anita Esely, a recent recruit from the DCEC and former partner close to Ian Khama and Botswana Patriotic Front acolyte Kamal Jacobs (former contender for Lobatse constituency) disposed to the affidavit on behalf of the DISS and the State. The High Court expressed its displeasure at the lack of evidence against Matsheka and the DISS failure to adhere to the rule of law by avoiding costs on a punitive scale.
Esely stated under oath that her investigation centred on two points. The first that Matsheka had consulted a traditional doctor to avoid being arrested in connection with Tlotso’s murder and secondly that the MP had “created a complex web of individuals to shield his possible complicit conduct”.
She offered no proof in support of the allegations. Instead, she appeals, in the same vein that the DIS has used in the past, to dangerous public emotion and invokes the spectre of mob justice by alluding to the public demonstrations in Lobatse of 13 June 2022.
Esely’s affidavit claims that Matsheka “will ultimately be charged once all the evidence has been collected”. Police investigators interviewed on grounds of anonymity by The Botswana Gazette have expressed their concern over this statement.
“Esely’s affidavit shows that there is no evidence against Matsheka, otherwise it would have been stated,” said a police source. “For an Investigating Officer to make a conclusion that a person will be charged despite lack of evidence goes against all investigative training and the impartiality of the investigator is questionable.”
The interviewee, a senior investigator within the Murder and Robbery division of BPS, also expressed his concern with the claim that the investigation would not rest until those responsible are ultimately charged while at the same time revealing that Tlotso’s body has not been found.
Matsheka resigned as Minister of Finance in 2021 and has been reported to have differed with cabinet in respect of Magosi’s absolute control of the security and law enforcement sector, as well as the failure of the BDP leadership and the government to curb his excesses in the use of his authority as found and confirmed by the Court on Sunday.
Magosi has placed himself at the apex of responsibility in the Tlotso investigation. If the investigation fails or has insufficient evidence to charge Matsheka, it will be viewed as a political witch hunt. In the event the incoming DPP charges Matsheka but fails to advance evidence, the political backlash will be hard to bear. If Matsheka is ultimately successfully prosecuted, Magosi will have sealed his tenure in office. This is his gambit.