• Chief spook says they are on high alert
• Alarm raised following Kenya’s decision to close refugee camps
• He blasts media for misinformation
The local intelligence community is currently on high alert following warnings of possible al-Shabaab terrorist’s influx from Kenya after the latter’s plans to close some of its refugee camps bordering Somalia in the near future.
The Director of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) Isaac Kgosi told the Public Accounts Committee that they have received intelligence alerting them of a possible arrival of more than two hundred refugees from Kenya some of whom might be linked to terrorism and terrorist activities.
According to Kgosi, the DIS is on high alert and will ensure that the country’s porous border lines do not make it easier for terrorists to come set camp here under his watch.
Though Kgosi did not say whether any case has been received yet, he indicated that the intelligence gathered pointed out that Botswana is one of countries earmarked by this potential terrorists to set camp in. “Of course we are aware that when they come here they will try to cover up their intentions, but we will be on high alert,” said Kgosi.
Questioned about his department’s involvement in the issuance of visas to applicants and whether he does not think their involvement is destructing business, Kgosi said the DIS’s involvement in visa applications and approvals was at this juncture vital as the country was facing security challenges.
According to Kgosi, some unscrupulous individuals often pose as foreign direct investors in order to be given Visas to access and set base in Botswana. He says they then engage in illicit cross-border activities such as child and human trafficking. “After being busted they then go around tarnishing the good name of our country, saying they have been denied Visas and work permits for no reason,” said Kgosi.
He, however, refuted allegations that the number of tourists coming into the country are declining because most of them have been denied Visas. Tourists visas, he says, are not restricted, but says though intelligence gathered indicate that some individuals maybe obtaining tourists visas while coming into Botswana for criminal activities, anyone suspected is kept under surveillance during their stay in the country.
Kgosi bemoaned that though the intelligence community was doing all it can to tighten national security, they faced challenges especially that of the portrayal and spread of false image and information. These baseless and damaging statements, he said, are then made worse by what he calls information peddlers. This, he explained, are individuals who operate from country to country, peddling false intelligence at a fee. Most of the information they peddle, he said, has been discovered to be false and lacking basis. This kind of illicit trade, according to Kgosi, is common in most SADC countries.
Meanwhile, the media did not escape the DIS boss’ onslaught. According to Kgosi the media often rides on false information and report it extensively as if it is fact. He accused the media of fabricating stories, hence influencing a false opinion about the DIS.
This lack of truth in reporting, he said, has spread on to the wider society, saying currently Batswana have a weakness of not telling the truth.
According to Kgosi, they have so far received intelligence that a number of Batswana are seeking asylum in some European countries especially Germany claiming that they have witnessed corruption, killings and other violent crimes and are now fleeing from possible death. After investigating into the matter Kgosi said most of the individuals were discovered to be former sex slaves and prostitutes now seeking to settle abroad. “Some of them went abroad and had been staying there illegally working in brothels,” he said.
Although the MP for Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolatlhe pointed out that perhaps the DIS boss was conflicted to make such judgments which touches on matters of security, Kgosi maintained that the information he gave was truthful, saying he has documented evidence to prove it.