• P660k embezzled at Seventh Day Adventist Church
• SDA says handing documents to the police is against the law
• Police obtain court order to get the documents
The South Division of the Seventh Day Adventist Church is suing the Commissioner of Police, Keabetswe Makgophe, and the Attorney General, Advocate Abraham Keetshabe, for what it sees as the two men defeating the ends of justice by obtaining an unlawful court order to probe the church.
The church also holds that in obtaining the court order to probe it, the two men violated the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. The state has obtained a court order to probe SDA’s financial documents following the church’s refusal to grant the police the documents for investigation.
The church is under police investigation after P660 000 of its funds was allegedly embezzled. This was after the church’s supervisory body that coordinates the Adventist Global Ministry in Botswana, the Botswana Union Conference (BUC), reported the matter to the police following discovery of irregularities by audit firm, Mazaars Forensic.
BUC president Dr Kenaope Kenaope reported the matter to the police alleging serious internal control lapses and gross negligence within the church’s treasury department and administration at South Botswana Conference. This led to a number of accounting errors and fraudulent activities that resulted in financial embezzlement by certain employees and former employees of South Botswana Conference.
According to a police statement, “a total of P651 999.74 is alleged to have been falsely claimed under medical assistance policy by Pastor Lebogang Mabotho and Mothusi Moeti who produced false invoices to support their claims”.
However, the church administration obstructed police investigations, prompting the police to apply for a court order to allow them to carry out investigations into the matter. The order was granted in November last year ordering the church to “provide detective Sergent Mongae M with all invoices, receipts, quotations, payment vouchers, records and supporting documents in the names of Lebogang Mabotho and Mothusi Moeti for the period of January 2012 to December 2016 and information to be provided in 14 days from the time the order was served”.
But instead of complying with the order, the church administration challenged the police commissioner and the Attorney General, saying the order was inconsistent with the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and that it was based on hearsay. The church administration wants the order to be set aside because it says it is not permissible in any court of law.
The issue has already divided the entire church, with holding that the supervisory body has an issue with the South Division of SDA. Supporters of the South Division say the supervisory body used a lot of money to pay external auditors when the church has internal auditors who could do the job for free. On the other hand, the supervisory body holds that it needed a neutral body to conduct the audit.