- State fails to respond to trio’s intent to sue
- DCEC head says critical steps were missed in the case
Former president Ian Khama, former spy chief Issac Kgosi and agent of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS) Wilhelmina Maswabi are expected to make an application before the High Court this week, demanding a total of P85 million from the state in damages for defamation, The Botswana Gazette has established.
Thabiso Tafila of Thabiso Tafila Attorneys and Unoda Mack of Mack Bahuma Attorneys told this publication yesterday (Tuesday) that the state was yet to respond to their statutory notices against allegations levelled by the state against their client in an ongoing matter commonly dubbed “the Butterfly case,” the state was served with these demands late last month.
“We are currently preparing to serve them (the state) with summons this week. The 30 days we gave them elapse this week,” said Tafila, who is Kgosi’s legal representative in this matter alongside Mack. “We are definitely going to end up in court. It was expected that they were not going to respond to us,” Mack added.
Khama, Kgosi and Maswabi’s demand letters say they were defamed in an affidavit deposed in court late last year by lead investigator of the DCEC, Jako Hubona, to the effect that all three and Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe had a role in the alleged looting of P100 billion from the Bank of Botswana. Maswabi has already been charged with financing terrorism and money laundering. Khama is represented by Ramalepa Attorneys while Uyapo Ndadi law firm acts for Maswabi.
In Khama’s statutory notice, the former president states that Hubona’s affidavit implicates him in money laundering and indirectly financing terrorism. “Our client wants you to publicly apologise for and retract the allegations contained in the Hubona affidavit,” his lawyers wrote. “To provide him with an undertaking that it will desist from making, publishing or causing to be published any further defamatory allegations.”
The notice avers that the statements made by Hubona are entirely baseless and false. “Ambassador Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe wrote to the relevant banks/financial institutions with a South African presence for confirmation that the Blue Files and Fire Flies bank accounts, in which the Hubona affidavit alleges some of the money is held, do not exist and, accordingly that she cannot be a co-signatory thereto,” the lawyers wrote. “Allan Gray, First National Bank, Absa Bank, Standard Bank, Bidvest Bank, Investec and CitiBank confirmed that the alleged bank accounts do not exist and/or the ambassador is not a signatory thereto”.
Consequently, Khama wants P25 million in compensation for his reputational damage.
Botswana’s former top spy Kgosi says some of the defamatory statements made by Hubona are that on 9 June 2008, the Bank of Botswana created three special units under instructions from Khama and himself with opening balances running into millions of pula. According to Kgosi, Hubona’s affidavit said money was then transferred into various bank accounts around the world and that on 15 February 2019, USD48 million was transferred from Makhota Bank in Indonesia to a Standard Bank account in South Africa under the names Kgethem (Pty) Ltd.
“The allegation in the said charge sheet and Hubona’s affidavit are defamatory of the client as they falsely implicate him in theft of large sums of money from Bank of Botswana, money laundering and terrorism,” Kgosi’s notice reads.
“The statements in the Hubona affidavit are wrongful and unlawful and were made with the nefarious intent to damage and injure his good name and reputation. These accusations and allegations are not only false but were deliberately fabricated as demonstrated.” Kgosi wants the state to pay him P30 million for reputational damage.
Serving intelligence officer Maswabi is also seeking relief. “Hubona alleges that client is a co-signatory with other people, including Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, in various bank accounts held in several banks under the entities known as Blue Flies (Pty) Ltd (Blue Flies) and Fire Flies (Pty) Ltd (Fire Flies) into which large amounts of money allegedly stolen from Bank of Botswana were transferred,” her notice reads. “Hubona lists 17 such bank accounts, 14 of which are with South African banks and the other three abroad, all held in either Blue Flies or Fire Flies.”
“Hubona alleges that the client is a signatory to 17 bank accounts of Blue Flies and Fire Flies with a total amount of USD 10 164 167 790.70. Further that she has nine personal global accounts with a total of USD390 000 000.”
According to Maswabi, the allegations against her are not only false and fabricated but are also defamatory of her. She avers that a report which was recently released by Omnia Strategy LLP and Alaco Limited titled “The Monarch Report – Flies and Lies,” provides enough backing to her claims that Hubona’s affidavit and statements were indeed false and fabricated. She wants P30 million from the state for reputational damage.
Meanwhile, media reports recently quoted the head of DCEC, Tymon Katlholo, as saying the case was likely to prove a massive headache for the state. Katlholo is reported to have said it was very premature of the state to take the matter to court before gathering sufficient substantive evidence and that certain critical steps were missed in the case.