Botswana reporter, managing editor cautioned over story on businessman

Gaborone - The reporter and managing editor of the weekly Botswana Gazette have been given a warning for breaking the law by publishing a story about a Zambian businessman's connections with the country's ruling party.

"My reporter and managing editor have been cautioned with a charge of contravening section 44 of the [Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime Act] which states that anyone who discloses information about an ongoing investigation can be jailed for one year or charged [with a fine]," editor Lawrence Seretse told News24.

The paper published an investigation in its Tuesday/Wednesday edition this week titled "DCEC foils Chitube, Reatile and Moumakwa's alleged P150 million oil deals".

The article is about Zambian businessman Jerry Chitube, who was deported to his home country by Botswana earlier this year, Seretse said.

"The story was exposing his connection with the ruling party's intelligence system and their business deals in the oil and diamonds industry, along with other South African businessmen."

Seretse said after the story was published, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime officials arrived at the paper's offices in Gaborone on Wednesday morning demanding all the computers used during the writing and publishing of the story.

Seretse, managing editor Shike Olsen, and reporter Innocent Selatlhwa were taken in for questioning on Thursday, but were kept in a room from 09:00 to about 15:00 without being questioned, he said.

On Friday, Seretse said the computers were taken from the publication's premises. He said officials had told them that information in their article related to their own investigation into the same matter.

"So we are waiting to hear how it is going to develop. We know we didn't break any section of the DCEC Act [and] we don't want to be seen as being unco-operative. We don't want our freedom to publish stories to be trampled on."

Seretse said the arrests and questioning would not stop them.

"We are not going to stop doing our work. There is no way we are going to let government intimidate us for doing our job."


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