The corruption-bursting agency, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has uncovered P50,000 cash at a house belonging to the Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Prince Maele, on Saturday morning.
After days of what appeared like a covert operation that saw DCEC agents camping out at Maele’s Block 6 house in Gaborone, the minister had to be taken in to explain the large sums of money dug from his yard.
Neighbours at Block 6 reported that they started noticing suspicious ‘DIS agents’ vehicles swarming the neighbourhood since mid last week.
A silver Kia sedan apparently camped out near the house throughout the day and night since Thursday until the raid on Saturday morning.
"Sa le re bona Kia'nyana e silver ya maDIS e tlhotse hale since Thursday," said one neighbour who asked for his identity to be concealed.
Questioned why he believed the vehicle was of DIS agents, the neighbour said the car occupants were just suspicious but they only connected the dots after the incident when the same vehicle was present during the raid.
One of the neighbours who narrated the incident to The Monitor likened the raid to a movie scene.
“There were many cars. They tactically parked to guard all street exits,” said one of the witnesses.
Another witness said Maele arrived at the scene with his wife in a white Toyota Land Cruiser and the couple was surprised to find their house being a centre of a hive of activity.
The house, Plot Number 39044, is currently unoccupied and Maele said he moved out of it in 2009.
The neighbours reported that the house used to be occupied by people of Asian origin, but they moved out in 2016 and it has remained unoccupied since then.
Reports say the money was hidden in a refuse bag and put in a green dustbin on the left corner of the yard inside the high wall.
According to eyewitnesses, strange looking men wearing balaclavas got out of a black Toyota Fortuner and used a spade that was borrowed from the neighbours and started digging.
The faceless investigators apparently unearthed "plastics full of money" and Maele could be heard denying the knowledge of the cash found at his yard.
After the raid
After the raid on Saturday morning, Maele had to travel to Orapa.
He was scheduled to travel on a Debswana flight to attend the official opening of Orapa’s Adrian Gale Diamond Museum by President Ian Khama.
Maele arrived at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport looking angry and dejected.
When he noticed that the Debswana senior management had not yet arrived, the already apopletic minister became even madder.
Although he too arrived 27 minutes late from the scheduled 10:30am check-in time,
Before departure time, Maele got on frantic and long phone calls that ended up delaying the flight, to the embarrassment of the Debswana executives.
Maele did not return with Debswana entourage as he joined the presidential entourage to Francistown to officially open the Thapama Interchange also known as ‘Spaghetti’.
Sunday: Maele taken in for questioning
Maele was summoned to the DCEC offices on Sunday morning where he was taken in for questioning regarding the cash. The minister arrived at the DCEC head offices at 10am driven by Gaborone lawyer, Uyapo Ndadi. He later issued a statement regarding the raid (see below).
DCEC spokesperson, Phakamile Kraai sent a one-sentence response to the The Monitor's questions on Monday afternoon via Whatsapp (after the publication of the paper edition).
"I can confirm that after a tip off the DCEC did go to Minister Maele's place in Block 6 and raided the place, where they found 50k on the dustbin, in the yard (sic)," said Kraai.
Maele's version of events
Below we publish exclusive verbatim press statement from Maele:
I do confirm that I was questioned by the DCEC over P50,000 that was found at my house at Block 6.
Without sounding like I am interfering with investigations, I will tell you what I already told the DCEC. I believe that is not prejudicial in any way.
1. The money was found after an extensive search in a refuse bag which was in a bin, in my yard.
2. I have no knowledge of the origins of the money and I asked the DCEC to take my finger prints to indeed confirm that I have not touched the money. We shall await the results.
3. The house in question is unoccupied. I moved out from it in 2009 and it has since then until sometime in 2016 been occupied by several tenants.
4. Upon arrival at the house with the DCEC, we found the security fence cut, I can’t help but think that the money was planted there in a desperate attempt to implicate me.
I have told the DCEC that this has all hallmarks of a set up and I mentioned those who I suspect to be behind it and that their motives are politically driven.
I have always cooperated with the DCEC and my wish is for them to carry out investigations as soon as possible and I assure them of my unflinching cooperation.