While DISS has confirmed that the CID raided the constituency office of the MP for Lobatse for donations of money and relief food in the hard times occasioned by COVID-19 that were being diverted for use as political largesse, the police say there was never such a thing
Investigations by The Botswana Gazette have established that two weeks ago, officers of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) raided the constituency office of the Member of Parliament for Lobatse, Dr. Thapelo Matsheka, following a tip-off that the office had allegedly been receiving and mismanaging food and money donated for relief for people in the course of extreme social distancing occasioned by COVID-19.
While the Commander at Lobatse Police Station, Baakile Moshashane, says he was not aware of the raid that took place on 20 May, a high ranking official of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has confirmed that Minister Matsheka was questioned by the CID in relation to COVID-19 donations.
Allegations are that several companies and individual well-wishers in Lobatse donated sizeable food parcels to the MP’s office with the understanding that the parcels would be fairly distributed to the people of Lobatse. Information gathered by this publication in Lobatse indicates that the MP’s office has indeed received lots of food parcel donations but only a handful of people in Lobatse are benefiting from them. It is further alleged that the donated food parcels are used by those close to the town’s MP as political largesse to cement and attract more support.
A phone call to Dr. Matsheka was abruptly ended as soon as the minister established it was from The Botswana Gazette, with Dr Matsheka saying he was in a meeting, on Monday last week. Several follow-up questions sent to him were unanswered inspite of having undertaken to read and respond to the inquiry sent to his mobile phone on the same Monday.
Efforts to reach the Senior Office Administrator in the Lobatse MP’s office, Therah Mokwena, proved futile as the office line went unanswered for the whole day. This publication has established that two men close to Dr. Matsheka, who are not even employees of the constituency office, were in charge of distribution of the food. They are Wedu Tafa and Keotshephile Moisapula.
Tafa has confirmed that there was a CID raid on the MP’s office on Wednesday 20 May. According to him, searches at his home and at the homes of two others – Mokwena, and Moisapula turned up nothing.
However, it subsequently emerged that food parcels were found at Moisapula’s residence and he was allegedly detained for some time by the CID for questioning. But upon being contacted, Moisapula flew off the handle without confirming or denying the allegations except to say he was not going to discuss the matter.
In an earlier public announcement, the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Kabo Morwaeng said the government was against any COVID-19 donations being made to individual leaders like MPs, ministers, councillors and civic authorities. Morwaeng said monetary donations should be deposited into the COVID-19 Relief Fund account while donations in kind should go to the COVID-19 Task Force. Leaders were accordingly advised against receiving donations. It emerges further that a First National Bank (FNB) account number in the name of Kabo Hirschfield was broadcast to the Lobatse community to deposit donations for COVID-19 into.
According to information seen by this publication, well-wishers were requested to transact through a Pay To Cell mobile platform number 74177991. Through Pay to Cell, one simply sends funds to a number linked to an FNB account. The number in this instance belongs to Kabo Hirschfield. Sources say sizeable amounts of money were deposited into the account. This publication was unable to establish if the MP’s office has declared donations or disclosed what the funds would be used for. In an interview, Hirschfield was reluctant to respond. “Go and ask whoever gave you that information,” he said.
Dr. Matsheka also did not respond to further inquiries from The Botswana Gazette which sought to establish why the MP’s office would provide a personal bank account for official COVID-19 donations. This publication also wanted to know why the donations, which were in food hampers and money, were not re-routed to the COVID-19 Task Force and the COVID-19 Relief Fund accordingly.
Meanwhile, Commanding Officer for Lobatse and surrounding areas, Senior Superintendent Paul Molapisi, has told The Botswana Gazette that he is not aware of any raids. “I have also confirmed with the Station Commanders in Lobatse and they are also well not aware of it,” he briefly informed this publication, contradicting what the high ranking DISS official said to this publication.