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SADC lose millions in unauthorised contracts

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The delay by SADC secretariat to finalise a financial manual, which includes processes and responsibilities regarding dealings with bank guarantees at all stages, has cost the organisation dearly.

The latest from the headquarters of the regional economic bloc in Gaborone has it that the organisation lost over P487million being un unfulfilled portion of the advance payment paid through an Italian Bank, Fidiroma for the procurement of bio-security laboratory equipment to upgrade the existing facilities in Tanzania which is financed under the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The said equipment which is still to be delivered is for the Trans- Boundary Animal Diseases Project. Insiders and observers say, this is just but one of the many examples on how SADC has lost huge sums as some of the senior officers allegedly often commit SADC in contracts without authority exploiting the lack of  guiding manuals.

The amount in question is among the many shortfalls exposed by the forensic audit conducted by Ernst & Young following complaints of alleged rampant corruption at SADC. The Midweek Sun has reliably learnt that SADC secretariat has gone all out to recover its money, but a stumbling block could be the fact that the Italian bank used for the transaction has been sold.

SADC has further learnt that the Project Coordinator of the Trans-Boundary Animal Diseases Project (name witheld) is the one that had authorised the bank guarantee, contrary to the rules and procedures and not the Executive Secretary. In the past SADC did not have financial manual.

Amongst others, the proposed manual includes processes and responsibilities covered, finalisation of standard bidding documents for services, goods and works requiring advance payment in the form of a financial bank guarantee. The manual which has now been put in place states that a financial bank guarantee shall only be issued, directly and or via a swift instruction, by a bank or financial institution registered under the laws of the host country being Botswana for the Secretariat and legally authorised to issue such financial instruments.

Further, that there must be verification, authentication, custody and security of financial/bank guarantee; and conditions and authority for the release of financial bank guarantee.

Documents passed to this publication which also formed part of the August SADC council of ministers agenda state that Council noted that the Secretariat continued to follow-up on a refund of US$487,008.72, being an unfulfilled portion of the advance payment made under the grant.  The Council also noted that the efforts of the Secretariat to recover the advance payment guarantee.

Unresolved issues
The Council noted that although the issue remains unresolved the Secretariat had written a letter to central bank of Italy seeking intervention of state structures on liquidation of the bank guarantee on 31 March 2015.

The Secretariat has also written to the Italian public prosecution through the Italian Embassy in Zambia, seeking intervention of state structures on liquidation of the bank guarantee on 8 April-2015. The Secretariat has also written a final demand legal letter to Fidiroma that is the Bank, which issued the bank guarantee on 25 May 2015.

There is also a planned visit to the Embassy of Italy in Lusaka, Zambia to obtain facilitation in dealing with Central Bank of Italy and Italy Public Prosecutions. This is yet to be done.

The advance payment
The Council further noted that the internal investigation has been carried out and looked into all aspects of the supply contract relating to bank guarantee advance payment of USD 487,008.72, and it has been established that SADC signed a contract with AGMIN worth US$1,999,132.14 in 2012 for the procurement of bio-security laboratory equipment to upgrade the existing facilities.

This procurement followed AfDB procurement rules for international bidding which stipulates a payment of 50 percent of the value of goods at the signature of the procurement contract.

To this effect, a total of USD 999,566.07 was paid to AGMIN in June 2012 for which a bank guarantee from Fidiroma Bank in Italy was obtained in line with ADB rules.

By June 2014 equipment worth USD 512, 557.57 had been supplied and installed while equipment worth US$487, 008.72 has been delivered and yet to be installed. The Secretariat is following up with the supplier to ensure that the equipment is installed.

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Cops are not monsters – Matlapeng

Yvonne Mooka

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Crime becomes easier to fight when members of the society and the police work together, says Sejelo Police Station Commander Superintendent Mogomotsi Matlapeng.

“Police of today go to the people. We want them to see that we are not fighting them but fighting crime, hence we want to join hands with them,” said the police boss, who joined the police station this year in May from Broadhurst Police station in Gaborone.

He said that gone are the days when police officers were feared by members of the community. Supt. Matlapeng is likeable among members of his staff and the community of Kanye. He has won the hearts of many villagers in a short period of time because of his efforts to take the police station to the people.

Under him, Sejelo Police was awarded Station Community Policing award for this year by the Botswana Police Service. “We go to the people and address their issues. As a philosopher and a perfectionist myself, I believe that community policing is the way to go. “We go to schools and speak to teachers on certain issues relevant to the students. Our clusters also visit local wards to teach parents about pressing matters pertaining to crime,” he said.

Other than stock theft, the police station has recorded relatively low crime statistics. The station covers Kanye Kgosing ward, Moshana, Gasita and Selokolela.

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Murder convict, Masilo not going down without a “fight”

Keletso Thobega

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Thabo Masilo did not cringe when Judge Abednigo Tafa found him guilty of murder this past Thursday. Masilo stood erect staring ahead as if in a trance.

There was not a mutter in the courtroom when Justice Tafa stated that Masilo had intentionally murdered former St. Joseph’s College learner Tshepang Motlhabane on 16 November 2012 in Phase 4 Gaborone. In his ruling, Tafa argued that Masilo could not claim that he was acting in self defence when he had stabbed Tshepang three times. Masilo had through his lawyer Kgosi Ngakayagae insisted that Tshepang was his lover and he had stabbed her following an altercation because she had grabbed him by the balls when he had demanded his phone and P100 he had borrowed her.

Post mortem results show that Motlhabane had three wounds and died from a vein rupture. “If it was indeed self-defence, he would have not stabbed the deceased three times in different places. It is without a doubt that the accused had come to the house with the intention to commit an offence but faced with resistence from his victim, he decided to stab her,” said the judge.
He however dismissed the robbery charge.

It remains a mystery how Masilo gained entry into the property, which had a high wall and alarm system. Curious members of the public, relatives and friends of Tshepang as well as relatives of Masilo flocked Court Room 5 of Lobatse High Court for the ruling. The courtroom was so packed that some people sat at the back on the floor.

Masilo, who has lost a lot of weight, seemed to suffer a ‘leaky bladder’ as he went to the bathroom several times, escorted by prison officers. At one point during the long ruling, Masilo stopped proceedings, and through his lawyer Ngakayagae, complained that there were certain people in the courtroom taking pictures of him.

These people were seen by him only. The ruling that was read over nearly two hours painted a sad ending for the little girl who sustained wounds above the eye, on the chest and died a day after the attack. Tshepang is said to have at one point said to a nurse and relative: A lo boleletse mama gore ke a swa (Did you tell my mother that I am dying). Information provided by medical personnel indicates that she had lost a lot of blood.

Tafa read statements by 13 witnesses including Security System officers, police officers, a forensic expert, nurse, doctor, a relative and a photojournalist. All corroborated that the girl had been attacked and had locked herself in her bedroom from her assailant, who was much later found in hiding in the house. Masilo had claimed that he and the deceased were dating and he had loaned her P100 and his Nokia phone. However, when he visited her and asked that she return the money, a fight ensued and she held him by the testicles.

This, he claimed, led to him taking a kitchen knife and stabbing her in self-defence because she did not want to let go of him. Tafa said that this version of events was questionable and noted that only the accused and deceased were in the house at the said time and it would be difficult to determine exactly what had happened. He however said that there was no doubt that Masilo had killed Motlhabane.

He also noted that Masilo’s actions showed guilt as he had hidden in the ceiling of the house when he heard Security Systems personnel breaking into the house, and had also claimed to have drunk poison. He said if it was not his intention to kill Tshepang; he would have cooperated with the security officers and asked them to help Tshepang promptly.

Following the ruling, Masilo’s lawyer Ngakayagae asked for a date to be set for submissions on extenuation, saying that they would present three witnesses. The date was set to 7 February 2019 at the Gaborone High Court.

Masilo, who is already serving 15 years for robbery and rape, appears to come from a decent home. Many of his relatives were in court to offer moral support. His mother, who appeared agitated, has been by his side from day one. Considering that the family is paying one of the best lawyers in the country, it is safe to say that money is not a problem.

Although Masilo has already been found guilty, the fight appears to be for a more lenient sentence as he faces the hangman’s noose. Outside court, different camps spoke in hushed tones discussing the ruling. The mother of the late Tshepng looked sombre and frail. It is clear that the pain has not left her.

Shying away from flashing cameras and curious glances, she briefly said she was pleased Masilo had been found guilty but refused to comment further. An unidentified family representative chipped in that they were happy with the ruling. Quizzed on how they felt about Masilo she said: “We have forgiven him because we are Christians. But we are glad that justice will be served.”

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