Botswana: Criminal Masterminds Swindle Batswana Out of Millions

Gaborone — Batswana are losing millions of pula through bogus business deals, says Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) director Advocate Stephen Tiroyakgosi.

Speaking in an interview, Advocate Tiroyakgosi said in the past two years, DPP, in collaboration with their South African counterparts, investigated 38 cases where Batswana were swindled out of P20 million and R6.5 million while trying to import goods.

He said investigating such cases was a tedious process as investigations often took place across borders where investigators in foreign jurisdictions had to be engaged to extract evidence admissible in a court of law.

"We follow certain formalities which involves approaching lawful authorities in jurisdictions where our investigations are headed," he explained.

He further explained that lawful authorities in foreign lands were engaged in investigations through the Central Authority for Mutual Legal Assistance as well as Central Authorities for Extradition of Fugitives.

Recently, Advocate Tiroyakgosi said, there was a topical issue related to the engagement of renowned South African lawyer, Advocate Gerrie Nel to facilitate and assist in investigating and gathering evidence in connection with an ongoing multi-million pula case of suspected money laundering and fraud.

"Some money relating to the case under investigation is believed to have unlawfully crossed the border into neighbouring South Africa. We submitted a request in September 2019 to our counterparts in South Africa to assist with investigations and get the necessary evidence. We have reached a stage where we felt that we were not getting enough assistance from our counterparts for whatever reason and therefore engaged in an alternative plan by engaging legal practitioners based in South Africa," he said.

He said Advocate Gerrie Nel was engaged to address the challenge at hand. "As a former prosecutor, he is better placed to understand how things are done in SA," said Advocate Tiroyakgosi.

Advocate Nel, he said, was engaged as a legal practitioner of repute, whose qualities would assist DPP in digging up the necessary evidence.

"We know that we have been attacked for engaging him, but I would like to assure Batswana that Advocate Nel is engaged based on his abilities not on his skin colour. We believe that he was the most competent lawyer to deal with the matter on behalf of DPP," he said.

Advocate Tiroyakgosi said the issue was being blown out of proportion by certain individuals with entrenched interests.

"I believe some of those who questioned his engagement were not acting in good faith, while others were indeed seeking for clarity on why the DPP settled for Advocate Nel. As an advocate and former prosecutor, he has the experience to fully carry out the assignment," said the DPP boss.

Advocate Tiroyakgosi revealed that since his engagement, Advocate Nel had been able to unlock some doors and therefore there was progress in his assignment.

"As I have indicated earlier, this is not the only case that we are investigating, but we had taken a decision to fast track its investigations as it was before court. Other issues are still being investigated and the cases are yet to be registered in court," he said.

<i>Source : BOPA</i>

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