Officer caught in rat trap tender

Kabelo Dipholo
GUILTY: Solomon

A tender to trap and kill rats at the Gaborone High Court has instead ensnared a high ranking officer and her family.

Administration of Justice (AoJ) Chief Supplies Officer, Kegaisamang Solomon, has been convicted of 10 counts of corruption by the Francistown High Court.

Solomon appeared before Justice Sechele accused of participating in the procurement of supplies from entities in which she had an interest but failed to disclose such interest.

In the matter which was first registered at the Gaborone High Magistrate Court on 23rd February 2016, Solomon had pleaded not guilty, leaving the onus with the State to prove the charges against her beyond all reasonable doubt.

At the centre of the controversy are the companies Crawley Holdings (Pty) Ltd, STD Investments, and Radiant Hygine who are linked to the Solomon family either as Directors or Shareholders. The family members are Stephen Solomon (Kegaisamang’s husband), Patricia Solomon (daughter), and sons Phenyo and Mxolisi Solomon.

Giving evidence in court, Goitsemang Mpelega, an Accountant employed by AoJ said he was interviewed by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) on January 15th concerning several irregular financial transactions.

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Mpelega told court that he searched for documents pertaining to the transactions in question which were mostly payment vouchers.

“These vouchers were issued in respect of Crawley Holdings (Pty) Ltd, STD Investments and Wilkingson (Pty) Ltd,” Mpelega told court.

A First National Bank of Botswana liaison officer between the bank and law enforcement agencies, Gorata Seboko, told court that Crawley account had magtape credits for the amounts of P29 120.00 and P19, 040.00 of which P19,040.00 was paid by AoJ.

The above transaction was further confirmed by Acting Deputy Registrar of the High Court, Bafi Nlanda, who authorized payment in favour of Crawley Holdings for the same amount.

Also giving evidence in court, Head of Financial Crime Control at Stanbic Bank Botswana- Bikkie Mbenge, revealed that there were transactions in the STD Investments account between 8th August 2012 and 5th December 2014 amounting to over P87 000.

The disgraced Chief Supplies Officer was further convicted for unilaterally preparing a purchase order for the acquisition of two shredding machines used at the High Court.

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The Procurement Assistant, Khumoetsile Molelwane, told court under cross examination that she was not involved in the procurement of the two shredding machines, and placed the blame squarely on the accused, who is also her supervisor.

She further told court that the accused person’s daughter (Patricia Solomon) was the contact person for Crawley Holdings.

Interestingly, Patricia’s husband, Pako Eustice Letlape who is Head of Loans at Barclays Bank (ABSA) admitted in court that the accused person is his mother in law and that he is a co-Director of Crawley Holdings, which supplied AoJ with the two shredding machines.

It was further revealed in court that the accused’s husband approached the Directors of Wilkingson (Pty)Ltd and proposed to use their company for purposes of quoting a tender at the High Court.

According to Wilkingson Co-director Julia Tlhowe, Stephen Solomon claimed that his own company STD Investments had no TAX clearance hence his request.

“Payment was subsequently received from the Administration of Justice which was released to Solomon,” said Tlhowe in her evidence.

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The final nail on the disgraced AoJ officer came from the evidence given by Radiant Hygiene Director, Queen Lorato Njoroge, whose company won a tender to handle a rat infestation at the Gaborone High Court. The company employed both of the accused’s sons Boitshepo and Phenyo as an Accountant and Marketing Executive respectively.

Njoroge told court that Phenyo had a 10 percent commission in every tender he procured for the company. With Kegaisamang in charge of procurement at AoJ, the young man would receive requests for quotations from the High Court, Gaborone, and was ultimately awarded a tender to supply tonners.

However in her defence the accused claimed that she declared her interest to the Permanent Secretary through a letter in 2012, which she said she delivered to Records Management office. The claim was dismissed by State Counsel Gopolang Tlhabologang.

“Had such a declaration been made, a copy of the letter allegedly authored by the accused would have formed part of the documents in the accused’s personal file,” argued Tlhabologang.

He further argued that the claim of declaration by the accused was not only improbable but beyond all reasonable doubt false.

“The State has proven the charges against the accused person beyond all reasonable doubt, and the court should convict her as charged,” submitted Tlhabologang.

The court duly obliged, and convicted the accused of corruption on all 10 counts. Sentencing has been reserved for end of the month.

Officer caught in rat trap tender
STATE COUNSEL: Tlhabologang

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