How the Spy Chief fell Out with His Top Spies
With the estranged agent making a clean breast of things, BOTSWANA GAZETTE enters the murky world of spies and leaves convinced that DISS and the Presidency must arrest the fallout between the head of DISS Brigadier Peter Magosi and his erstwhile trusted operative William Mabengano before it compromises national security.
William Mabengano and Temo Tau are partners in the highly-specialised field of informatics and have been in the game for some time now. According to Mabengano, it began as a vocation that led to a hustle that catapulted them into the high echelons of power. In their line of duty, and by Mabengano’s account, the two have travelled the world and have seen it all. They have not only assisted DISS but many government departments, the regular police and CID to speed up investigations and arrests as well. “The police and the CID would often pay us money as little as about P40 000,” he says. “But we appreciated the gesture because we also knew we were helping our country.”
Mabengano ascribes their sudden rise in popularity and market demand to their skills perfected over a long period of time. They have done work for DISS for some time after being approached by the head of the secret service Brigadier Peter Magosi himself about supporting his efforts. They effectively became a part of DISS, often leading high-profile operations, Mabengano claims. He took this reporter into his confidence and laid bare to him what would elsewhere amount to classified information and state secrets. He was eager to justify what he had meant when he said they have worked for DISS and deserve to be paid. “I am doing this because we are witnessing the highest form of betrayal where people are saying they do not know us,” a visibly perturbed Mabengano stated.
The candid conversation revealed a series of operations, both legal and illegal. Some of these were allegedly initiated by none other than Magosi himself, evidence of which is intact in WhatsApp conversations. It is the duo’s manner and style of delivery that inspires awe. “When Morena (Magosi)’s phone was lost, I am the one who located it,” Mabengano says. “I have done a lot of his personal errands, most of which I cannot share with you.”
While some of their findings and conclusions seem far-fetched to be real, Mabengano says they have actually performed what amounts to miracles in some instances. Such feats were for the benefit of Magosi and the nation. One such coup de grace was intercepting and foiling a plot to assassinate President Mokgweetsi Masisi arresting people behind fake accounts on social media, some of which targeted the President and the First Lady, Neo. They have also been tasked with fishing out and clamping down on people who have been leaking COVID-19 press releases and have delivered. “We long warned about Coronavirus,” Mabengano says, showing this reporter a message that they long sent to Magosi about the pandemic.
“It pained us when we heard that the government does not have a database for its citizens,” he notes. “That is as easy as ABC. The estranged spy expresses concern about Botswana’s over-reliance on servers domiciled outside the country, saying the country’s information – including critical data – is all over.
Regarding the questionable legality of some operations bearing their names, Mabengano admits that they have also done bad things as is often practice in espionage. “I cannot dispute that we have done things which we often regret but illegality is often the only way,” he says without batting an eyelid. “We have been arrested several times at several police stations in the course of doing work for the DISS and as is common in the spy world. We have never compromised DISS. We took the bullets for our country, except where we needed DISS support for our freedom.”
He declined to open up on some curious details observed by this reporter, saying some revelations border on breach of national security and are better not made. “We are hurt but we still want closure with DISS,” he says. “I have been promised millions by enemies of the state but I am not ready to trade my country for money. But we are ill-treated. Despite what we have done for our leaders, we are been shown the middle finger. We are in countless debts for the jobs we did for DISS and people want their money. Our reputation is being ruined; our families torn apart. My mother and uncles are concerned and hold meetings every week since the P15 million elections story. Nobody can wish that for their family.”
Regarding fears that he could spill the beans about operations around the elections, Mabengano says he is aware of politicians’ interest in the matter but shall remain tight-lipped as he continues to seek solutions to his fallout with Magosi whom he continues to refer to as Morena (my Lord). What pains him, he says, is that DISS even claims not to know of him. “As you can see, these are my conversations with Morena,” he says, pointing to his phone. “These are his assignments to me or us. These are his messages of gratitude.”
The dialogue appears healthy until it gets to a point where Magosi suddenly tells Mabengano to never call him again. “I told you to never call me in your life,” the message says in the call that his estranged agent recorded. “It is very easy for me to throw you in prison if I want to. If you want me to trace your steps and throw you in jail, it takes me a day. I have told you to never call me again in your life.”
While it is not clear what led to the fallout. In the call, Magosi says Mabengano had misbehaved at a certain operation in Tlokweng that went awry and ended in an unexpected arrest during lockdown. But Mabengano denies in the conversation and insists that he did everything according to Magosi’s orders. “I did as you ordered Morena,” he says. “I did everything as you ordered.” Magosi then accuses Mabengano of having gone to Tlokweng without a permit, which Mabengano also denies. “They were beating me but I refused to disclose the details,” Mabengano says. But Magosi returns that Mabengano was not authorised to go there. Still Mabengano denies that he was not supposed to have been there.
The conversation becomes more animated: “You are the one who authorised me to go there Morena, and insisted that I should engage manually,” Mabengano asserts, politely but firmly.
“When I first engaged you as my source, did I first tell you about your limits? Should I show you a footage of how you misbehaved?” Magosi queries and proceeds to accuse Mabengano of disrespecting Botswana and suddenly calls off.
Mabengano says he is sharing this audio with The Botswana Gazette as a response to DISS’ claim that the secret service does not know them and for the benefit of anyone who may care to intervene. He has made efforts to reach the Office of the President but says he is not at liberty to share much about progress in that regard.
Despite initially running to the police to seek protection, Mabengano says he is now at peace, “I fear no one,” he states. “I am not looking for fame or to defame anybody. All I am saying is that I want my money for all the work that I have done for DISS. I do not mind if they no longer need my services, as long as they pay me,”
This week DISS spokesman Edward Robert told this publication that they “are aware of the claim” and have “engaged counsel on the matter” but declined to say anything about other issues. “What I can say perhaps is that we are fully confident that we have never engaged anybody or institution to engage in illegal activities,” Robert asserted. “All our operations are governed by the dictates of our Act.”