AfriForum’s private prosecution unit will assist the government of Botswana in a high-profile money-laundering and fraud case involving a well-known South African businesswoman.

The unit, under the leadership of Advocate Gerrie Nel, has officially been appointed by that government to represent it in a case in which businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe is implicated.

AfriForum believes this is a step in the right direction to strengthen Botswana’s hand in sending a strong message to the continent on rooting out corruption.

Motsepe-Radebe is identified as a cosignatory of two bank accounts holding a sum of more than $10 billion (R150 billion) allegedly stolen from the Botswana government.

The funds were alleged to finance a so-called “coup” before the October 2019 national election in that country. Those elections saw Mokgweetsi Masisi take over from Ian Khama as president.

Nel says that their intervention came after the South African government failed to assist Botswana on this matter. Nel made the announcement at a media briefing in Pretoria.

“Our brief is to facilitate any request for mutual assistance in the Bank of Botswana case. It’s quite embarrassing, but this particular was personally handed over by the head of the international cooperation unit to the designated officials at Dirco, but that seems to have disappeared. The lack of feedback from the South African authority led to our client conclude that there was an unwillingness to deal with this request and that was deliberate.”

Nel says a special prosecution team will collaborate with the Botswana government to ensure a speedy and successful prosecution on the matter.

“Our involvement in this particular matter is founded in a principle that one should not be shy from the investigation and prosecution because of your political or family connection. This is a request to assist foreign law enforcers to obtain evidence needed to prove a criminal matter in their country. The merits and facts of this case will be dealt with by Mr Tiroyakgosi in as far as necessary in this matter than I would ever know.”

Botswana’s head of Public Prosecution, Stephen Tiroyakgosi, has welcomed the assistance from the South African group. He’s optimistic this will help speed up the necessary prosecution of those accused.

“But we are also of the view that bearing in mind the nature of the matter that we’ve requested assistance on, we are of the view that it has to be considered as most serious. And attention has to be placed ensuring that documents are responded to or are delivered to the right agencies in South Africa to act on. We believe that that has not been taking place. And hence we had to engage Advocate Gerrie Nel and his team to assist us”.

The South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation has promised to respond at a later stage.