7 January 2019

Botswana: Burs Pounces On Defence Concepts Over Tax Debt

Rosita Enterprises (Pty) Ltd trading as Defense Concepts Botswana is facing the wrath of Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) for alleged tax debt.

Defence Concepts, which is owned by Thatayaone Seduke, is alleged to have been closed since August this year after BURS refused to issue them with tax clearance certificate as they owe the taxman over P7 million.

"The company has been failing to pay tax and were protected by the previous administration. In most cases they were given some waiver, the last one being in February this year," revealed a highly placed source at BURS.

Since April this year, Defence Concepts has also failed to pay its 12 employees salaries, which led to them reporting the matter to the Commissioner of Labour. It is further alleged that Seduke has admitted that he has been ordered to pay the employees by the Commissioner but promised to do so when funds became available.

Contacted for comment, Seduke referred this publication to BURS but was quick to point out that many companies in Botswana have tax arrears and Defense Concepts situation is not unusual.

Asked if indeed the company has closed shop, Seduke said he was surprised by the allegations. He, however, admitted that he owes his employees' salaries. "It is normal to owe your employees' salaries. This is because those who owe us are taking too long to pay us," he said, in defence.

Defence Concepts is one of the preferred suppliers of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS), having been given tenders worth millions by the spy agency without going through an open tender process.

Last year in February, the company caught the eye of Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) after it was awarded a P54 million tender for the construction of the Mahalapye Prison fence. Although the project fell under the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security it was coordinated by DISS which falls under the Office of the President. The tender was allocated through a selective tendering process, where Defense Concepts was identified as the preferred supplier without going to open tender.

Although the project was initially budgeted for P8 million, its cost ballooned to P54.3 million and government is said to be questioning the amount and reluctant to pay the remaining balance. Government has so far paid Defence Concepts P48.5 million.

Seduke is also a Director of another entity called Power Force (Pty) Ltd, a construction company that has been linked to some high profile projects.

Former DIS Director General Isaac Kgosi told a local publication in September 2014 that Power Force (Pty) Ltd was subcontracted in 2005 to do some work at the spy chief's house. Kgosi said the company also did maintenance work on behalf of the DIS. The company was embroiled in more controversy when it was discovered that it was also contracted to do work at President Ian Khama's private airstrip at Mosu.

According to sources, during an interrogation by DCEC agents, Seduke claimed that he has long requested to be removed as the Director of Power Force (Pty) Ltd.

Earlier this year, High Court Judge Justice Tshepo Motswagole ordered the auction of assets belonging to another company associated with Seduke - International Aviation Solutions Aviation (IAS). This came about after IAS' failed to pay over P125 000 for unlawfully terminating a contract with one of its suppliers, Whispers Café. Whispers Cafe took IAS to court after the latter unlawfully terminated their catering contract for the aviation school in January this year and were awarded default judgment.

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