BDF losing money to ghost soldiers

SHARE   |   Sunday, 09 November 2014   |   By Phillimon Mmeso

Despite strong denials from Botswana Defence Force (BDF) management, some ex-soldiers maintain that they continue to be paid by the army long after they resigned. 

The ex-soldiers were shocked to realise that though they have resigned or retired they were still on the BDF payroll system. One of the soldiers, who retired in March this year, said BDF is still crediting him with his salary while he has resigned.


“I contacted the finance department and alerted them about the problem and  they told me that they will rectify the problem but the salary is still coming through and I have now stopped informing them as it seems enjoy paying me while am no longer their employee,” said former army officer who did not want to be named.

According to the officer when he contacted the army again he was told by one of the officers that the problem might have been caused by some officers who created a ghost account on his name.


The officers, who created the ghost account, stopped it when he left the force but are afraid to act on the active one as it might expose their dirty dealings, said the ex-army officer. Another former army officer, who now works for one of the parastatals, confirmed that currently he is still receiving salary from BDF though he left the barracks almost eleven months ago.

“This is really troubling me because I don’t know what will happen in the near future but I have constantly told the finance people to do something about the issue in vain,” said the worried former military man.


He said what worries him more is the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) as it seems he is cheating on his tax returns as he is receiving two salaries. Information turned up by this publication has revealed that more than 200 former officers who resigned or retired between 2013 and 2014 are still receiving salaries from BDF.

The officers, who are benefiting from the windfall, range from non-commissioned to commissioned officers.


However, the Director of Protocol and Public Relations at BDF, Colonel Tebo Dikobe, has in a written response denied that they have ghost employees.

“The Botswana Defence Force does not have “ghost employees’’ within its establishment as you aver, neither are there any former employees who are benefitting from our payment system,” said Dikobe in curt answer. 


How a ghost employees scam work 

According to the Fraud Magazine, a ghost employee is someone on the payroll who doesn't actually work for a victim company. Through the falsification of personnel or payroll records a fraudster causes pay cheques to be generated to a ghost.


In order for a ghost-employee scheme to work, four things must happen: (1) the ghost must be added to the payroll, (2) timekeeping and wage rate information must be collected, (3) a pay cheque must be issued to the ghost, and (4) the cheque must be delivered to the perpetrator or an accomplice.

Association of Certified Fraud Examiners states that payroll fraud is number one source of accounting fraud and employee theft and happens in 27% of all organisations and or businesses.


Fraud not new in the army 

BDF is not a stranger to fraud as last year the army suspended its P165m BDF Fund pending investigations of misappropriation of funds by the army officials tasked with its administration.


Some of its administrators were alleged to be colluding with some of the soldiers to milk out some funds by giving out double loans and sharing the other with the applicant.

In answering a question from Francistown South legislator Wynter Mmolotsi last year, the then Minister of Defence, Justice and Security Dikgakgamatso Seretse confirmed that the fund has been suspended pending investigations. The BDF Fund was set up in 1991 by the then army commander Lieutenant General Ian Khama in a bid to encourage a culture of saving within the army. 

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