The Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) has moved fast to intercept a transaction worth around P30 million, suspected to be funds intended for the purchase of a helipcopter from a local businessman by former President Ian Khama.
The deal to buy a chopper by Khama comes after the Office of the President repeatedly turned down his request to use Botswana Defence Force (BDF) helicopters.
In an interview with this publication, the businessman Shadreck Baaitse who is the owner of Prevailing Securities and a former soldier with Botswana Defence Force (BDF), could neither confirm or deny that Khama has shown interest in buying his Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft. Asked about his relationship with the former president, Baaitse revealed that they are very close since he was his batman during their time at BDF. “I worked with Khama while he was the Commander of the BDF as his batman. He is also my paramount chief, as such we are very close,” he revealed, adding that he is also close to former Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Isaac Kgosi.
Baaitse vehemently denied that one of his bank accounts was frozen by FIA saying the allegation is just propaganda peddled by his detractors. “It is not true that some money was deposited into my account as part of the sale of one of my helicopters to former President Khama,” he said.
Asked if he has ever worked with Kgosi while he was the Head of Military Intelligence, Baaitse was economical with information choosing to say he was his senior at the BDF.
Sources within the intelligence community have revealed that recently US$3 million was deposited into one of Baaitse's business accounts from outside the country. “The money was transferred into the account by a source outside the country and he (Baaitse) failed to account for the source of the money and its purpose. Hence the account was frozen,” revealed the source. Although the source and purpose for the alleged deposited money could not be established, it is alleged that the money could be for the purchase of the aircraft by Khama from Baaitse.
Prevailing Securities, a 100% wholly citizen owned company, is one of the leading security companies in Botswana and one of the few that own aircrafts. Most of their employees are former members of BDF, especially from the Special Forces. In an interview recently with Mmegi Newspaper, Khama revealed that he wants to procure an aircraft for himself since government is refusing to lend him the state helicopters.
Although Khama's retirement package includes the use of state aircrafts, Khama found the going tough after leaving office as most of the time his requests were turned down by the incumbent -President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Recently Office of the President (OP) instructed Debswana not to give Khama a ride on their aircraft when he was going to officiate at a function at Orapa, Letlhakane & Damtshaa mines. At the time OP reasoned that protocol dictates that they handle transport logistics for the former President. In June, Khama flew to United States of America to attend a Conservation International (CI) board meeting without informing OP, which caused them to release a public statement explaining that the former president is required to do so.
In May, BDF Air Arm Commander Major General Innocent Phatswane wrote a memo directing all air arm units to only accord Khama VIP status. “When flying the former President you are required to accord him VIP status and the crew should be as per Air Staff Instructions (ASI). The Squadron Commanders are required to brief all their flying crew with immediate effect,” stated the terse memo.