Debswana blames late MD for P110m spying debt

Sharon Mathala
INSET: Albert Milton

A lawyer representing Debswana in the infamous ‘Debswana spygate’ case says his client never had any agreement with Infotrac, the aggrieved intelligence services company.

Attorney John Carr-Hartley told a Gaborone High Court at the commencement of the case this week that whatever spying agreement Infotrac had, was between them and the late Managing Director (MD) Albert Milton in his personal capacity and not Debswana.

The trial began with former Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) Carter Morupisi who testified that he was a board member at Debswana and that at some point the MD of Infotrac, Mompoloki Motshidi, complained to him about his delayed payment for a service rendered.

Morupisi told the court that he then contacted Milton who confirmed that he was aware of the agreement and that they would pay Infotrac.

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Taking the stand next was the MD of the private investigating firm, Motshidi who gave details of his relationship with Debswana.

Motshidi told the court that he had worked with Debswana several times before and that he was registered within their procurement systems.

He further told the court that at times he was told by the Debswana head of security that some of his operations/jobs were top secret and that normal procedures had to be flouted.

Motshidi explained to the court, chaired by Gaborone High court Judge Abednego Tafa, that at times he was contracted and given jobs via email, whatsapp or phone calls.

Giving an example of such work, Motshidi said: “Debswana requested Infotrac to supply spy equipment and acquire intelligence on mine worker union employees. I was given the brief by the Debswana head of security headquarters, head of security Jwaneng and head of intelligence Jwaneng. Debswana was concerned that they were always a step behind with union members. They had wanted me to supply spy equipment at their offices, vehicles and private homes,” Motshidi said.

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The private investigator further said during one of the jobs, when he finally sent their quotation for work done, he was requested to change the wording and address the description of work differently.

“They tore apart my initial quotation detailing the job done, instead they said I should address the quotation as boardroom equipment and interview room equipment,” he said.

Turning to the job which is subject of litigation, Motshidi told the court that sometime in December 2017 he was approached by Debswana to lobby for Milton to assume the MD position, as the then MD Balisi Bonyongo was about to retire.

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This was after the same investigating firm was also hired to investigate an alleged love relationship between Milton, who was then the General Manager in Jwaneng, and a co-worker, one Candy Goody and alleged favoritism.

“I was approached by the head of security Mr, Kewakae and he expressed that Debswana wanted to engage Infotrac on a highly sensitive job. He told me that the job was sensitive for both Debswana and Botswana Government,” the MD told the court.

The private investigator further told the shocked court room that he was to also lobby support from stakeholders so that Milton’s succession to the top post is guaranteed.

According to his testimony he was to lobby President Mokgweetsi Masisi, the then Director General of DISS, Isaac Kgosi , the former Bank Governer Linah Mohohlo as well as other prominent board members.

Motshidi says he told Debswana the job would come at a fee of P 110 million. “I shared with him that Debswana can propose how to pay the money. He said that for this project Debswana would only pay upon completion of the project.”

The job, according to Motshidi, was completed successfully and Milton was appointed.

To his surprise he was taken from pillar to post when he demanded payment.

He told the court he first approached Debswana for payment around January 2019.

He says at one point he was approached by one George Tlhalerwa, who told him he was sent by Debswana to facilitate payment.

He agreed for a meeting with Tlhalerwa and Debswana bosses, and again he was promised to be paid.

“I have been disappointed by Debswana. I have rendered a service and I need to be paid. That is all I want,” Motshidi pleaded with the court when asked if he had any final word.

Given the chance for cross examination, Carr-Hartley attempted to tell the court of inconsistencies with Motshidi’s version of events.

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Debswana through their lawyer’s submission is adamant that they are not liable and maintain he had an agreement with the late Milton and not them.

Cross examination continues next week Thursday as court had to adjourn after Carr-Hartley cited ill health.

 

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