South African businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe has been fingered as a co-signatory to at least two bank accounts holding some of the more than $10 billion (R150 billion) allegedly stolen from the Botswana government to finance “terrorism”.
This was heard this week at a Botswana court in Gaborone during the bail application of a former spy, Wilhelmina Maswabi, who was named as the one holding purse strings to the loot.
The court heard that Maswabi was found to have more that $390 million in her nine personal global accounts and had allegedly been transferring funds to the former Botswanan spy chief, Isaac Kgosi, who is being investigated for threatening to topple the government.
All these are contained in a bail-opposing affidavit by the directorate on corruption and economic crime investigating officer, Jako Hubona.
The court was told how billions were stolen from the diamond-rich country’s government from 2008 and stashed in offshore accounts.
Hubona alleged Maswabi and Motsepe-Radebe were co-signatories on South African bank accounts owned by two companies, Blue Flies and Fire Flies. Between them, the companies hold 17 bank accounts outside Botswana.
MOTSEPE-RADEBE DENIES ANY INVOLVEMENT
However, the wife of former cabinet minister Jeff Radebe denied it all and told the media this week she did not even know Maswabi and had not met her.
Motsepe-Radebe dismissed the recent development and previous media reports suggesting she was meddling in Botswanan politics as part of a continuing cloak-and-dagger intelligence operation in which she is targeted.
“I have never been involved in money laundering, illicit outflow of capital, regime change and terrorism. This reporting is all derogatory and unjust,” she said.
Motsepe-Radebe was accused earlier this year of bankrolling Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi’s campaign against President Mokgweetsi Masisi in the leadership race of the governing party, the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
It was around then that the Botswana government restricted her travelling movements without giving reasons for the decision.
Media reports continued to go out over the months suggesting she was working with former president Ian Khama in a bid to oust Masisi.
Not much of Motsepe-Radebe’s voice was heard in those stories especially in Botswanan media which she believes was used as part of an alleged intelligence project.
It appears, however, she was not going to let it just pass after her name was mentioned during a bail application by Maswabi, code-named Butterfly.
Hubona’s affidavit, a copy of which was seen by City Press, states that the investigation was triggered by a report that Khama and Kgosi instructed the Bank of Botswana to create three “special unit accounts” to which Maswabi had access.
Hubona alleged that on August 14 this year Maswabi transferred $2.9 million to Kgosi.
“It is common cause that Mr Isaac Kgosi is a fugitive of justice and is being investigated for having said he will topple the government. He was arrested on January 15 this year,” Hubona said in his affidavit.
It is believed that the alleged stolen money was being used to fund terrorism.
While Butterfly remains in the dock, it was not clear if any other people linked to the accounts in question would be arrested.
Motsepe-Radebe, who strongly denied any links with the accounts in question, said she had not been contacted by any authorities and that she was willing for her bank account to be scrutinised.
Motsepe-Radebe believes she is a victim of an alleged intelligence operation in Botswana. She presented a document that had been published in Botswana and that was reportedly leaked to the media this week, the contents of which were part of divorce papers involving a spy agent in Botswana.
In the story the wife of an agent revealed details of an intelligence operation allegedly aimed at assisting the governing party win the October elections.
“I am clearly one of the people targeted and victimised for black propaganda, espionage, black budget funds and counterintelligence,” Motsepe-Radebe said, citing some of the alleged tactics of the spy operation.
Motsepe-Radebe said she was not involved in any terrorism activities. She said they (the Botswanan people) had previously said she was involved in funding the regime change but now that there had a been an election with no regime change, “they have changed their tune and now say that I am funding terrorism.”
She said she was “shocked” by the “present allegations by state security and intelligence with the Butterfly story”.
“What is the motive of a country’s intelligence agency identifying citizens, individuals and, in this case, myself and coming with lies that can’t be verified?” she asked.
Also present at Motsepe-Radebe’s media briefing was Maswabi’s attorney from Botswana, Uyapo Ndadi, who said he was in South Africa to authenticate the documents submitted to the court as exhibits to support claims that his client, Motsepe-Radebe and others, were signatories on some bank accounts.
Ndadi showed City Press a copy of a stamped Nedbank agreement with Fire Flies as well as a business client agreement between Blue Flies and Absa in which Motsepe-Radebe is at the top of a list of five signatories.
He was, however, not convinced that the documents were authentic, saying they had not been signed.
CLOSE TIES WITH BOTSWANA
Although she has previously flatly denied ever funding Venson-Moitoi in the BDP presidential race against Masisi, Motsepe-Radebe told City Press this week that she almost spent some money on it.
She made it clear that she was interested in Venson-Moitoi’s campaign so much that she was willing to finance at least one project.
Motsepe-Radebe made headlines earlier this year after an audio recording a discussion about Venson-Moitoi’s campaign was leaked to the media.
She said the recording was between herself and Venson-Moitoi’s visiting son whom she identified as Kabelo.
Motsepe-Radebe said it was over lunch that she inquired from “Kabelo how his mother’s campaign was going”.
“His mother is a very close sister of ours. While he was telling me, I said why don’t you get Malo-A-Botsheba [Limpopo-based kwassa kwassa artist] to come and do a unity display with his branded cars?” Motsepe-Radebe said.
“And then they asked where the money would come from? I said paying Malo should not be a problem … I will pay; it is not a lot of money, about R50 000.” The event, however, never happened.
Meanwhile, Motsepe-Radebe said she welcomed “any official investigation by the relevant authorities in South Africa, Botswana and elsewhere”, adding that she was a “businesswoman in good standing. I do business ethically.”