- Central bank accused of protecting commercial banks as they rob consumers - BoB caught in the cross-ire between Absa bank and client - Absa reported for possible fraud - Absa accused of forging client’s bank statement - Absa contends it returned the P50 000 that was debited

The Central Bank, Bank of Botswana (BoB) has come under criticism for allegedly ignoring its mandate of oversight role in the operation of commercial banks.

For many years, customers of some of the big commercial banks have raised complaints of being cheated by the banks of their hard earned cash. Most of the complaints centre around debiting of accounts by the banks without the knowledge of the client.

While in most instances the commercial banks have claimed that such acts are human error which are always rectified, consumers continue to contend that such acts are deliberate with an intention to steal the money.

Banks management and the BoB are being accused of allowing such activities to continue without taking action against culprits or putting measures in place to ensure minimisation of the incidents if not total stoppage of such


In a classical case of client against one of the leading banks in the country, Absa Bank Botswana, the central bank finds itself in the crossfire as BoB and its management are accused of neglecting their duties to take banks to task and condoning the ‘criminal acts’ committed by the banks against their clients.

Documents in possession of Botswana Guardian indicate that Absa Bank allegedly swindled a client (name withheld) of about P50 000. The client in the documents argues that the bank debited the funds from his account without his knowledge.

The client pointed out that after noticing this he approached the bank and was promised that his funds will be reversed within the expected period. While the bank argues that it returned the funds, the client contended that what reflects on his bank statement is not a true reflection of the account, arguing that the bank statement has been doctored.

Following the completion of its investigation Absa Bank Botswana confirmed that on 11 March 2008, a transaction in the sum of P49 600 was debited from the said account but later reversed the transaction and credited the account the sum of P49 600 on 26 March 2008.

“We have provided a copy of your account statements to validate the credit. The Bank is unable to provide further details on the transactions as the documentation supporting the processing of the transactions have now become obsolete. Our document retention period in terms of the law in force then was seven years,” Goitsemang Naomi Mantswe, Head of Affluent Segments, Retail Banking said in a letter dated August 2022.

This letter prompted the client to write to BoB on 13th December 2023 arguing that contrary to what Absa is claiming “the balance did not change hence I believe they committed fraud.”

The client said in another communication to one Motswapong at BoB dated December 15th 2023, when a bank commits fraud, Bank of Botswana is mandated to act. “I will take Bank of Botswana and its governor to court to fully explain its reasons for failure to do oversight and regulate banks accordingly.

“Bank of Botswana has protected commercial banks for far too long in their wrongdoings. Every legitimate complaint, brought clients against commercial banks, 99.9 percent of the time Bank of Botswana favours commercial banks. This cannot be right or ethical.”

This matter which according to documents, has been going back and forth, started in 2008.

In 2022 Magistrate Tshoganetso Atamelang issued an order directing Absa bank Botswana to provide Botswana Police Service through Detective Assistant Superintendent Phelindaba Gumede with the detailed bank statement for the client’s account; such statement to reflect debit of P50 000 and credit of P49 600 on or about 26 March 2008; transaction for the said account beyond 26th March 2008; and any other information that may be helpful to the officer in furtherance of police investigations.

The client maintains that Absa Bank Botswana has not furnished the police with the appropriate documents as per the 2022 court order. The central bank argues that the bank (Absa) has provided proof, that is, acted accordingly.

Bank of Botswana (Bank) Acting Director Business Conduct and Regulatory Compliance Department Evelyn Sennanyana stated in a letter that they have perused the court order availed and observed that the court order was made in favour of the Botswana Police Service (BPS). The Bank advises that enforcement of a court order is a prerogative of the court, which is a higher jurisdiction than the Bank, she said.

“Absa Bank Botswana Limited has since submitted proof that it had acted on the court order and availed information as requested by BPS. Nonetheless, even if Absa had not complied with the court order as alleged by yourself, BPS has the competency to bring that to the attention of the court. Consequently, be advised that the Bank cannot assist on this Matter,” Sennanyana said in a letter dated 15th December 2023.

Absa Bank Botswana has also had a clash with the same client over purchase of a motor vehicle in an auction and application of a credit card. He wrote to the bank through his lawyers, Dingake Law Partners demanding damages for loss of business and unfair treatment.

Attorney Martin Dingake stated that around October 2020 or thereabout, client applied for a credit facility in the form of a credit card.

He said the credit card could not be processed on account of deliberate omission of clearance letters. Client was subsequently advised to reapply, which he did and put the limit of the credit facility at P5000 and provided a

cash cover of equivalent month.

“Since October 2020, your bank sat with the P5000 cash cover. The credit card was declined although Mrs Nwako said same had been approved. Consequently, client was asked to apply for the third time which he did.

“On the 25th December 2020, client received a message that the credit card had been approved. On the 4th January 2020, Ms Bingo called to make threats about the application and that it will remain pending.

“Client has since turned up information that any credit could not be activated as the credit limit had been set at P30 000 despite his application for P5 000,” Dingake said in a letter where the law-firm demanded explanation for the basis for the P30 000 credit card limit; who authorised it; and what internal processes has the bank undertaken and/or intends to undertake to deal with claims made by the client.

The Bank said through its Senior Legal Advisor Keletso Tebele that its position is that at all material times the Bank cooperated with the Customer to assist speedily and there was no need to involve Customer's lawyers. Tebele stated that in the circumstances any expenditure of legal fees cannot have been at the Bank's cause or instance. “The Bank did not and has not made any defamatory statements about the Customer at any point.

During the month of March 2021, the Customer asked that he be furnished with written reasons why his loan and credit card applications were declined.

“A letter dated 29 March 2021 explaining the reasons for his declined applications was duly dispatched to the Customer. In view of the reasons outlined above the Bank denies any and all liability to the Customer for the damages outlined under the various heads,” Tebele said.

At Press time, BoB had not responded to a questionnaire routed through its Head of Communications and Information Service, Seamogano Mosanako.

Absa bank Head of Marketing and Corporate Relations, Dennis Mambure who had indicated that they would respond to the questionnaire told Botswana Guardian on Wednesday that he is on leave and referred the publication to Kenanao Phele, Absa Strategic Brand Marketing and Communications, who could not be reached at press time.