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Comedy of errors in Butterfly case

OARABILE MOSIKARE MORONGWA PHALA-GOODWILL
Maswabi with her lawyer Ndadi PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
Given recent events in the matter of the alleged P100 billion gone missing, Mmegi Staff writers OARABILE MOSIKARE & MORONGWA PHALA-GOODWILL argue it is increasingly apparent that the State may have made a real dog’s dinner of the case against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) agent Welheminah Maswabi, codename Butterfly

Given recent events in the matter of the alleged P100 billion gone missing, it is increasingly apparent that the State may have made a real dog’s dinner of the case against Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) agent Welheminah Maswabi, codename ‘Butterfly’.

What is for certain is that Maswabi is facing charges for financing terrorism, possession of unexplained property and false declaration for a passport. But what has grown uncertain as things unfold in the court of law is not only the course the case has taken, but also that the veneer of justice is possibly fading.

As it is, allegations have been made, but none seem to stick as any so-called evidence the State gathered against agent Butterfly has seen the latest witnesses punching gaping holes right through it.  

The South African companies that Butterfly ‘is’ allegedly involved with do not exist; the accounts in South African banks said to be holding staggering amounts of money in which she is allegedly signatory to, do not exist; and the preliminary digital forensic report has dismissed the purported email exchanges between Maswabi and former spy chief, Isaac Kgosi, as inauthentic.

While much of what has been alleged of Butterfly as a young woman with a murky past blows her reputation out of the water, what is even murkier is the world of intelligence. It is alleged that then president Ian Khama and former spy chief, Kgosi, had instructed Bank of Botswana (BoB) – which BoB has denied – to open three bank accounts that were used to loot upwards of P100 billion of public funds.  Therein Butterfly becomes the protagonist of this plot.  She is currently out on bail after remaining in police custody for a little over a month.

With little left to contest her reprieve from a prison cell, the State now wants former president Ian Khama to appear as witness. What plays out next will be for the courts, but outside the walls of justice the search for the truth has left the captivated audience wondering if the State is not chasing its own tail. 

By not dealing with the allegations in the Butterfly case, the State is deemed to accept that its entire case could be based on a fraudulent and well-orchestrated scheme by some government organs – the DIS, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).  Moreover, the organs act in part with the blessing of the Office of the President thereby his men. The State’s decision not to oppose bail would then have been disingenuous. And here is why.

The DIS, DCEC and DPP in their capacity are well resourced enough organs not to have pushed ahead to court without solid evidence to make such allegations and charges stick.  However, the story playing out in court indicates the allegations lack the evidence to make the charges stick. So far, the State comes off ill prepared and on the fast lane to actively be catalyst to a possible miscarriage of justice.  What is inevitable is that the public is captivated and as such being the case the President’s men

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had raised the people’s hopes that the arm of the law does not only reach for the meek, but also grabs hold of the mighty.

To see cracks appearing at this point, it is just as good as having that hope shattered.  It would be a mighty blow to see this cliffhanger of a case end in a despairing miscarriage of what could be justice delivered.

Besides, watching in hope of more from the judicial space, the country has to cringe from having, overnight, become a laughing stock for the unfolding comedy of errors that is the Butterfly case. 

The DPP’s application to hold the case in camera has only fuelled public suspicion and opinion that there is much to conceal now that the case is not going well for the State on grounds of concrete evidence.

Transparency is lost while the truth remains hidden.  Our meek protagonist, agent Butterfly, has already been prosecuted by public opinion and the mighty are yet to have the same.

If the case is dug any deeper only to find nothing, then for their colossal indiscretions, the directorate heads too must pay the piper. 

If found to be nothing but a façade, then the Butterfly case would be an elaborate, meticulously engineered hoax that even the highest office in the land has to answer.

This Butterfly case is a stark reminder of what we should not become as a country. A rogue and criminalized state! It is an outrage that government institutions can be coordinated to fake and fabricate evidence against innocent citizens. This is by far the most egregious conduct by government. But where did it all start.  It is common cause that the forged documentations in this case was approved by the heads of DIS, DCEC and DPP.

They cannot in truth claim not to have known that the documents were falsified. But why would the state seek to pursue a false prosecution.

The answer lies in the appointment of Peter Magosi to head DIS. Magosi was discharged from the army on several counts of misconduct. He blames Kgosi and Khama for his dismissal. It is not clear what selection criteria was therefore used to appoint him to the DIS. Was President Mokgweetsi Masisi not aware of disqualifying details on Magosi or did he entirely miss this?

Who conducted the vetting process for the President?  It seems that with the appointment of Magosi to DIS, a new policy was formulated and that was to target and discredit his protagonists from the army.  If the DIS can fabricate evidence against citizens, then Masisi must fear for the kind of intelligence reports he is getting. The DPP press release on the Butterfly case is another outrage. When things are false, fabricated and fraudulent, no press statement will impair that true.

Those involved in the persecution and prosecution of butterfly are guilty of misconduct and their actions amount to willful abuse of authority. If President Masisi believes in the rule of law, he must suspend all of them. The integrity of government institutions has been compromised and Botswana has overnight become another Banana Republic



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