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DCEC probes ‘Butterfly’ afresh

MPHO MOKWAPE
Butterfly (middle) at court PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) has reportedly reopened investigations into suspended intelligence agent, Welheminah Mphoeng Maswabi known as ‘Butterfly’ in the spy circles.

No new charges have been laid yet in relation to the fresh investigation. The corruption busting unit is said to be making another probe into Maswabi in the ongoing case in which she is still fingered for the P100 billion that allegedly went missing from the Bank of Botswana.

Though the DCEC has been saying investigations against Maswabi were still on, it is reported that the probe, which should have been completed, has started from scratch.

It was unclear whether the investigations were prompted by the newly hired South African Afriforum lead Advocate Gerrie Nel.

Advocate Nel was roped in by the State to aid in the prosecution of Maswabi who is currently facing lesser charges. The charges are for possession of unexplained property and false declaration of a passport after the main charge against her of financing terrorism was dropped due to lack of evidence.

According to a reliable source, the DCEC re-started the probe following the redeployment of some of its top brass, who were handling Maswabi’s ongoing case. “The investigations are still in relation to the ongoing case.

The unit has been investigating Maswabi since the allegations which were levelled against her in 2019 that led to her arrest and subsequent charges, but now following the redeployment of some staff it seems the investigations have been started afresh. It could be that the State hired a new advocate and he might have insisted on carrying out the investigations,” said the source.

The source added the staff has started their investigations and that it was not clear if the new probe would yield fresh charges against Maswabi.

However, in a response to Mmegi’s enquiry on the matter, DCEC public relations officer, Lentswe Matshoganetsi said it was not true that the unit had commenced fresh investigations against Maswabi. “We are only privy to an allegation received in 2019, which is still ongoing,” he replied.

Quizzed on whether the new investigations against Maswabi were as a result of the hiring of Nel, the DCEC would not shed any light on the matter.

There was no answer to the question except the initial denial that there are no investigations against the accused person. The State brought Nel after its case seemed to be collapsing, an indication that a crucial charge against Maswabi (financing terrorism) having been dropped created complexity in the investigations.

Still, the State is at liberty to reinstate the case at a later stage should the DCEC find new or enough evidence. Meanwhile, Maswabi despite the investigations against her, wants the remaining charges dropped. She also wants P30 million from the State for

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defamation. For her charges to be dropped Maswabi is demanding that the State abandon all charges against her, as there was no basis to “proffer such charges” to begin with. “I demand that you unconditionally abandon the charges against me, as there was no basis to proffer such charges.

The decision to charge the accused person was not only irrational and illegal but outright malicious and it amounts to abuse of your prosecutorial mandate,” she argued. Maswabi’s attorneys are demanding further particulars in order to prepare for the case. They have also accused the prosecution of charging their client when there was no reasonable evidence.

One of her attorneys, Unoda Mack stated in a letter of demand that it was surprising the State’s response to further particulars was that the case was still under investigation and that the particulars requested would be provided upon completion of such probe.

He explained that the State charged Maswabi for possession of assets or properties that she does did own nor have control over and which were legitimately acquired by her. They argued the State also charged her based on documents they did not even have in their possession.

“It was extremely frightening that the prosecution deliberately and consciously placed such false information before the court. It is deeply troubling and baffling that you decided to charge the accused person with a count of false declaration when you do not have the very document which forms the basis of such a charge,” he said. Mack pointed out that the State charged the accused person for offences, which it would not substantiate, as there was no evidence to support the allegations.

He said what came out clearly from the meeting as per the said audiotapes was that the DCEC never submitted any docket “to you in relation to the charges and that there was never any basis to charge the accused, as no evidence existed”.

Maswabi said the allegations against her were defamatory and that not only were they  false but were deliberately fabricated to make her look like a thief while the truth has been there all along.

In her suit, she said the allegations made against her that she was part of the $48 million transferred into her account were false. She said the money never existed and that even the Reserve Bank of South Africa wrote a letter denying the transfer and authorisation of such amount.

The allegation was that Maswabi was the co-signatory and the said money was then transferred from Bank of Botswana into various bank accounts around the world.



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