Shocking details of how Debswana often engages spies for undercover operations emerged in court when MD of Infotrac, Mompoloki Motshidi, took to the stand to give his testimony.
Motshidi told the court that the dispute at the centre of the litigation was over an unpaid P110 million verbally agreed with Debswana to lobby for Milton, who at the time was General Manager at Jwaneng Mine, for the top Debswana post.
Motshidi told High Court judge Abednego Tafa that work that he has done for Debswana includes spying on employees through supply and installation of equipment in offices, cars and homesteads. “I was required to lobby for Albert Milton to be the next Debswana MD,” he said. According to Motshidi, the initial discussion (for the lobby consultancy) happened on or about 19 December 2017 with the Head of Security at Debswana, Mpho Kewakae.
“He (Kewakae) expressed that Debswana is interested in engaging Infotrac for a highly sensitive project, sensitive to both Debswana and the Government of Botswana,” said Motshidi. “He proceeded to share that according to Debswana, Milton, then General Manager at Jwaneng Mine, was the best candidate for the MD position.” President Mokgweetsi Masisi, former spy chief Isaac Kgosi, and the late former Bank of Botswana Governor Linah Mohohlo are said to have lobbied for the late Milton.
As the shenanigans unfolded in open court, names of powerful personages emerged as having been lined up to prepare the ground for Milton. According to the MD of Infotrac, he was to package and present Milton as a worthy candidate to then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, then head of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Service (DISS) Isaac Kgosi, and then Governor of the Bank of Botswana the late Linah Mohohlo.
Motshidi said he was told that Milton had the support of Masisi and therefore had to present him in positive light before the trio whom he referred to as stakeholders when disclosing these details in court. He stated that he told the mining company’s Head of Security (Kewakae) that he had previously been engaged by Debswana to investigate Milton’s alleged romantic relationship with a colleague and was paid for the job.
P110m a verbal deal?
Motshidi told Kewakae: “Infotrac could successfully do the project but that will come at a P110 million fee. We then said for this project, Debswana would pay upon successful completion of the project.” To the shock of many in court, Motshidi stated that due to the sensitivity of the project, Debswana would propose how to do the payment once it was done.
He said the work entailed engaging with stakeholders to decorate Milton’s profile and that he was to advise Milton on how to conduct himself. According to Motshidi, he did engage with the “stakeholders,” namely Masisi, Kgosi and Mohohlo. “I completed the exercise,” he stated.
In response to a question from his lawyer Kgosietsile Ngakaagae under cross, Motshidi said he had indeed interacted with the late MD of Debswana. “I first met Milton during investigations on his alleged affair with his colleague and then upon starting the project of lobbying for his appointment as MD of Debswana,” he said.
A few more meetings followed even though Milton stressed that he was more comfortable communicating through the Debswana Head of Security at headquarters, Jwaneng Mine, and the Human Resource Manager. Emphasising the need for Debswana to have paid him, he said: “It was never suggested that it was an engagement by Mr Milton in his personal capacity but Debswana.”
Debswana/Milton renege on agreement
However, subsequent to the successful appointment of Milton as MD of Debswana, neither Debswana nor its new MD would have anything to do with Infotrac, a development that eventually compelled Motshidi to seek redress in court.
Motshidi said he made several attempts to get Debswana to pay but all of them failed. He added that following several meetings with Debswana officials and Brigadier George Tlhalerwa (who had been appointed to facilitate such discussions) who was Private Secretary to then President Ian Khama, he issued a letter of demand. However, to his shock and dismay, Milton replied through his lawyers, Collins Newman & Co, denying liability.
A part of Motshidi’s astonishment, he said, came from the fact that Infotrac had never asked Milton to pay in his personal capacity. He thereafter wrote to the Debswana Board seeking an audience and followed it up with lodging a complaint to then Deputy Chairman of the Debswana Board and Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), Carter Morupisi.
Upon receiving the query, Morupisi immediately phoned Milton who indicated that he was travelling but would settle the bill upon his return. Morupisi, who is also a key witness in this case, too had something to say, breathing life into Motshidi’s claims.
He confirmed being approached by Motshidi for intervention as deputy chairman of Debswana. “At that point he told me that his company was providing services to Debswana but there were delays in paying his company,” Morupisi said. Morupisi testified that he then called Milton who acknowledged being aware of the issue and promised to see to it that the matter was addressed.
Debswana denies knowledge of contract
Acting for Debswana, when John Carr-Hartley of Armstrong Attorneys cross-examined Morupisi, he sought to dismiss the former PSP’s evidence. “Everything that he has testified is what he has been told,” Carr-Hartley said. “You have no personal knowledge of the transaction Mr Motshidi was telling you about.”
Angling to discredit the case on technicalities, the Debswana lawyer said any contract in excess of P110 million, it has to be approved and ratified by the Board. Therefore, immediately Morupisi learnt of the nature of the services rendered by Infotrac, he should have reported the matter to the Board.
Whereupon Morupisi differed, stating that he need not have reported to the Board because security services are a restricted black box affair where the details and manner in which they are carried out is and the preserve of a few.
Through Infotrac‘s spirited bid to get paid, the case promises to snowball into an interesting public show which will likely dent the image of Debswana and perhaps its fortunes. Already the case is with many wanting to know more of n what is happening.
The case, which is attracting much public attention, continued this Thursday where Motshidi and other witnesses were lined up to lay bare more details of little known aspects of what allegedly happens at Botswana’s most powerful parastatal.