Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Botswana arrests ex-spy boss

The once feared head of Botswana’s Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Isaac Kgosi, is in police custody after his arrest at Gaborone’s Sir Seretse Khama Airport on suspicion of tax evasion.

The arrest sent shock waves through Botswana, amid fears that it could worsen tensions between President Mogweetsi Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama.

Kgosi is Khama’s close ally. One of Masisi’s first acts as president was to fire him as intelligence boss.

READ MORE: Botswana’s big men battle it out

During his arrest on Tuesday this week, he loudly threatened to topple the government.

Though not yet charged, it is understood that Kgosi is being investigated in connection with alleged tax evasion.

The DIS, the Botswana Police and the Botswana Revenue Services spent the better part of Wednesday searching his house in the affluent Gaborone suburb of Phakalane Estates.

The once feared former spy chief was greeted with an arrest warrant and handcuffs on his return from a trip to Asia and the Middle East, accompanied by his wife and children.

The arrest and raid on his house were coordinated by his successor, DIS director general Peter Magosi.

Tempers flared at the airport as Kgosi demanded to know why he was being arrested in such a public way. As he was being handcuffed in the open lobby of the airport, he protested that the whole exercise was intended to embarrass him.

He started hurling insults at his captors, declaring that he had always worked hard for Botswana.

“You guys are driving me to do things I never thought I will do. I am going to topple the government, I’m telling you,” he said.

His lawyer, Unoda Mack, dismissed the statement as “a flight of hyperbole”, saying that had been caught off guard.

He said his client was calmer on Wednesday and cooperating with the authorities.

Speaking to the media, Magosi said Kgosi would remain in custody while investigations continue. He said it was still too early to tell if he would finish up in court, as the investigation was in its infancy.

“All we can say now is that there was a joint operation between us, the Botswana police and [the revenue service]. Our investigations required us to search his home,” he said.

It is understood that Kgosi’s other properties, including another house in Gaborone and farms, will also be searched.

Kgosi’s attorneys confirmed that he spent the night in custody.

“From the document that we have seen, they are looking for documents or storage devices that could assist in an investigation regarding tax issues. That’s all the document discloses,” Mack said.

Political analyst Leonard Sesa said that the manner of Kgosi’s arrest would only deepen the rift between Khama and Masisi.

“I have long said that the war between the president and his predecessor is no ordinary conflict,” he said. “If it is not nipped in the bud, this thing is going to end up in civil war.

“The way Kgosi was arrested raised eyebrows,” Sesa said. “But the way he threatened the state was very disappointing. It was a threat to national security and can’t be left hanging.”

Analyst Lesole Machacha countered this by saying that attempts to link the arrest to the rift between Khama and Masisi are far-fetched

“The revenue service had suspicions that there might be irregularities regarding tax and they have the right to investigate,” he said.

“While it was very foolish for Kgosi to talk about toppling the government, I think it was only out of frustration because he is used to having so much power. He was trying to intimidate the arresting officers,” he said.

The DISS was established amid controversy shortly after Khama assumed office in 2008.

Money from the government’s Disaster Fund were diverted to help establish the organisation, amid strong resistance from opposition MPs and some backbenches from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.

Kgosi, at the time Khama’s private secretary, was appointed to head the new body. With presidential support he quickly turned it into the most powerful security organ in the country. Well-funded and largely unaccountable, the DIS was shielded by Khama – despite allegations of corruption against Kgosi and human rights abuses.

This story was produced by the INK Centre for Investigative Journalism.

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, provided this story. Like it? Be an amaB supporter to help it do more.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Canna-business deal for Ingonyama Trust land

Foreign investment has been lined up for a joint venture with the Ingonyama Trust Board, which administers tribal land for the Zulu monarch

NPA ‘refuses’ to prosecute Oscar Mabuyane

The Hawks have accused the NPA of ‘dragging its feet’ despite voluminous evidence against the Eastern Cape premier

More top stories

ANC Durban election candidate shot dead while on door-to-door campaign

One other man was shot dead and two others were rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds

Rule of law drops globally, including in South Africa

Security and corruption prevents the country from ranking higher on the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index for 2021

Slice of life: ‘I can read nine or 10 books...

David van der Westhuizen, a street bookseller based at the KwaZulu-Natal Society of the Arts Gallery in Durban, tells Paddy Harper how he survives unemployment

South Africa opens up vaccinations for 12 to 17 year-olds

Vaccinology researcher Professor Shabir Madhi said young people were being vaccinated to reduce the number of people who could transmit the virus and the focus should instead be on people over the age of 50
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×