DIS, Butterfly head for another bruising legal tussle

Welheminah Maswabi PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Welheminah Maswabi PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

The drama between the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) and its former spy officer, Welheminah ‘Butterfly’ Maswabi seems to be brewing again as they are now headed for another round of tussle at the courts.

In the latest fight, the DIS and the State prosecuting agency, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) are now headed to the Court of Appeal (CoA) this time around seeking a review of the decision to acquit and dismiss ‘Butterfly’ of all charges by the High Court.

The legal battle that started as far back as October 17, 2019 and regarded by many as involving alleged treasonous attempts across borders and some powerful individuals within the country abruptly came to a short end in August 2021. This was after the Gaborone High Court Judge, Zein Kebonang acquitted and discharged the former spy officer of all charges amongst them money laundering.

The State, which got heavily disgraced when the charges were dropped, had wanted to withdraw the charges first with liberty to reinstate after engaging South African legal giant, Gerrie Nel.

At the time he had advised for the charges to be dropped and fresh investigations against Maswabi to be instituted.

His advice seemed to had come a little too late because at the time the State chose to withdraw the charges there was already a pending application at the High Court by Maswabi.

She had filed the application seeking for the review of the charges and the decision by the State to prosecute her when they lacked evidence in the first place.

The review of the decision to prosecute and the subsequent withdrawal of charges meant that the desire of the State to have charges withdrawn with liberty to reinstate were dashed, therefore, the only way to save face was to appeal the judgement.

Meanwhile, when the allegations first surfaced, Maswabi was amongst others accused of having an intimate relationship with former DIS head, Isaac Kgosi on top of being accused of having money in different accounts but she was adamant that the State had it all wrong.

Through her ordeal, she maintained that the State had fabricated evidence against her and was trying to ruin her.

Maswabi, who through her court appearances kept the media and the public on their toes to get a clearer glimpse of the woman labelled a ‘terrorist financier’ and who also carried what may have seemed like a prosecutorial attack, denied ever being in any intimate relationship let alone having signed or wired money anywhere as alleged.

She maintained that the allegations in the charge sheet and statements contained in the affidavit of Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona were defamatory as they falsely implicated her in money-laundering and financing terrorism. She even attempted to get a P30 million payout from the State on grounds that the deposed affidavit by Hubona was false and defamatory.

The affidavit contained allegations, amongst others, that she was a co-signatory with other people including Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe for various bank accounts held in several banks held under entities known as Blue Flies company into which large amounts of money allegedly stolen from Bank of Botswana (BoB) were transferred.

“The allegation in the said charge sheet and Hubona’s affidavit are defamatory of client as they falsely implicate me in theft of large sums of money from Bank of Botswana, money-laundering and terrorism,” read the notice.

Maswabi said the allegations were not only false but were deliberately fabricated to make her look like a thief.

The former senior intelligence officer’s supposed experts who poked holes in the prosecution case also backed innocence.

Meanwhile, another prominent case about to make yet more headlines in 2022 is the Khama- DIS one that is also scheduled for hearing this session.

The case was ongoing when the nation went for the festive break in December last year and it is set to continue as the DIS is adamant about gaining access to the former president’s State House number 4.

The DIS wants to be given access to Khama’s property through a search warrant at the CoA seeking a review of the decision of Lobatse High Court judge, Ranier Busang who denied agency a search warrant for the property.

According to the spy unit, which attempted for the appeal to be heard on an expedited basis but failed, it is of the view that the former president smuggled weapons from the DIS armoury into a safe in his house making it difficult for the intelligence agency to get evidence for investigations.

In the grounds of appeal, the State indicates that when armoury was searched nothing incriminating was found despite that it was known that weapons were initially in the facility.

“We want to search the house as we believe the weapons were removed from the armoury to the safe inside Khama’s house. That is also why we want access to the CCTV footage to get a clue as to how the weapons were moved,” said the State.

The State also says investigations will be stalled if is not given access to the house.

Khama’s attorneys, Ramalepa Attorneys, are opposing the move accusing the State of being dishonest and seeking a second bite on the cherry as they had been granted a similar search warrant before.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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