- Registrar says DCEC is better placed to handle the request
- DPP unaware of the request
The Registrar of the High Court, Michael Motlhabi, has rejected a bid of the Bank of Botswana to obtain all affidavits in the high profile case of the state versus Welheminah Maswabi that revolves around PI00 billion that was allegedly stolen from the central bank in a scheme that allegedly involved powerful personages in Botswana and South Africa.
BoB, which is central to serious allegations levelled against Maswabi, former president Ian Khama and former head of DISS Isaac Kgosi, had sought the affidavits to familiarize itself with the case and what is being alleged about it.
The Registrar of the High Court has confirmed receiving such a request. “My reaction to this request was that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) which was seized with the investigations was better placed to deal with the request,” Motlhabi said by email. “We were constrained to share pleadings on matters which are pending before courts, and probably in which investigations were still ongoing in them.”
Motlhabi added that it would be a wrong to take his position as a rejection because it is rather an advice to redirect the inquiry to appropriate institutions.
The Botswana Gazette can reveal that BoB approached the High Court with this request after its attempts at the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) hit a snag. A highly placed source at DPP has confirmed that before going to the High Court, BoB had approached it but was rejected because the central bank refused to endorse the state’s case. According to the source, BoB has expressed its displeasure to the state on the matter because the state “is talking about them but seems not eager to engage them on the matter.”
Even so, DPP director Stephen Tiroyakgosi says he is not aware of this request from BoB which was made to senior prosecutor, Priscilla Israel. “Even if I did, I would not assist them because this is a matter under investigation,” he said in an interview.
There are concerns are that the state may not be keen to request supporting affidavits from BoB from which a whopping P100 billion was allegedly stolen and deposited into several offshore accounts in a scheme that allegedly involved former president Ian Khama and Kgosi. Prominent South African businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe, who is a sister-in-law of that country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, and Maswabi are allegedly co-signatories to the accounts.
These allegations of money laundering are contained in an affidavit submitted by DCEC investigator Jako Hubona in support of the prosecution of Maswabi who has come to be better known by her operational codename of “Butterfly.” Khama and Motsepe have denied these allegations, saying GDP is estimated at USD18.62 billion and that it would mean that the allegedly stolen amount would account for 54% of the value of the country’s economy. Botswana’s annual national budget is between USD4.3 and 5 billion.
But BoB governor Moses Pelaelo threw a spanner in the works when he told Members of Parliament in a special meeting that no such money was missing from the central bank.