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DIS, DCEC war exposed in Court of Appeal

Bame Piet
SEEKING JUSTICE: Katholo (seated)

Morwaeng, PSP, AG failed to act on Katlholo’s complaints

The recent public clash between the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) came to light in the Court of Appeal (CoA) last Thursday afternoon.

A bench of three judges, including Justices Isaac Lesetedi, Baaitse Nkabinde, and Edwin Cameron, were astonished to learn that top civil servants, including the Permanent Secretary to the President and the Attorney General, had no clear guidance during the dispute.

The judges expressed their confusion over how such a critical issue was allowed to deteriorate.

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The standoff began in October 2021 and escalated until April 2022 when DIS agents barricaded DCEC offices, detaining some officers for interrogation.

This happened while the DCEC boss, Tymon Katlholo, was away attending an Anti-corruption conference in Rwanda.

The DIS’s mission was to check on the progress of investigations, including those related to Seleka Springs and Isaac Kgosi’s statements during his arrest.

The Court of Appeal bench was particularly interested in understanding how a misunderstanding between these vital institutions reached such a low point.

“I think there was a lot of suspicion and mistrust between the two institutions,” responded State Counsel David Thabiso Olatotswe, who frequently fell back on this explanation during questioning.

The judges questioned why a check on an investigation resulted in interference from one statutory body into another’s operations.

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They emphasized the international recognition of DCEC’s independence and questioned the authority of police officers seconded to DIS to raid DCEC offices and confiscate files.

Olatotswe argued that the DIS had a reasonable belief that the DCEC was concealing or stalling investigations threatening national security and that the DIS Act empowered them to take action.

The judges asked why the two Director Generals did not come together to discuss their operations.

Olatotswe admitted to mistrust between the organizations but couldn’t provide clear answers on the future of DCEC’s investigation under DIS control.

The State counsel argued that Katlholo had no legal right to challenge the raid in his personal capacity.

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Katlholo’s legal team countered, stating that their client had tried all avenues without success, and the DIS acted beyond its legal mandate, causing chaos across the public service.

Both parties called for costs against the other, and the judgment day is yet to be announced.


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