The families of three Police officers who tragically perished in an aircraft crash in the Gumare/Maun area in April 2014, have taken the former employer, Botswana Police Service (BPS) to court seeking orders for the release of the detailed report of the crash.
In papers before the Lobatse High Court, the three families seek the court to compel the BPS to release the report on the premise of legitimate expectation owing to its assurance to avail the report in a letter dated 9th May 2014. The letter signed off by one G. Bontseng tersely states that, “Investigations are on-going to determine the cause of the accident. Relatives would be issued with a Police Report after investigations are concluded.”
Almost two years on, the families have not received the report and they are demanding it on the basis that, as members of the deceased officers, they deserve to know the cause of the accident in question so that they may find closure and advise themselves as far as their rights are concerned.
They continue to state that they seek materials relating to the aircraft crash of A350 Euro-copter bearing call sign BPS 02 including all statements taken from persons by accident investigators in the course of their investigations. Their request for orders also include the release of all cockpit voice recordings and transcripts from such recordings of the aircraft, from the 20th April 2014 to the date of the accident as well as all communications between persons who were involved in the operation of the same aircraft from 20thApril 2014 to the date of the accident inter alia air traffic control and radar communications.
They also seek the court to compel BPS to release all the opinions expressed in the analysis of information including the flight recorder information as well as all the piloting crew’s licenses indicating both aircraft type and class ratings, recency and currency requirements, whether they had night and instrument flying ratings, qualifications, most recent aviation medical certificates and record of fitness, performance and or capabilities under the circumstances in terms of Section 48 of the civil Aviation Act.
The families represented by attorney Malcom Gobhoza, also want Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB) to release all meteorological records of Gumare to Maun (Okavango Delta region) from the 19th April 2014 up to 24th April 2014, service records of the aircraft including latest compass swing report, certificate of airworthiness and registration of the aircraft as well as records of flight plan of the crashed aircraft for the date of 20th April 2014.
However Advocate Charles Gulubane representing Botswana Police Service submitted that even though the families do not expressly and specifically state, what they are matter of factly seeking is a pre-litigation discovery of documents that may be used for future litigation and wish for the families’ application to collapse since there is no pending litigation between the parties.
He also continues that the rules of court do not provide for such discovery and that the documents sought by the three families are considered privileged documents and therefore not subject to disclosure.
Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana also states that while it has a role in its founding Act to provide specified aviation meteorological services through the National Meteorological Service to all aircrafts, it does not provide for the preparation and dissemination of reports to third parties. It also states that its founding Act only provides for the issuing of certificates of airworthiness and registration of aircrafts, but not dissemination of records to the public.
CAAB continues to counter that the Minister of Transport and Communications may make regulations pertaining to air routes and that person operating aircrafts are obliged to the authorized air routes and that it is mandated in the Act to issue a certificate of approval to service providers undertaking maintenance on aircrafts but it is not stated that it bears the responsibility to collate and disseminate information and records to any third party of the public.
In his oral presentation before Justice Abednico Tafa, Gulubane continued to state that it was the discretion of the pilot who was piloting the tragic aircraft to assess the weather condition before take-off. He added that the case only constitutes a ‘fishing expedition as the applicants want a search warrant of a civil nature’ and it is not the role of the court to assist people who want to sue in building a case. He continued that a police report is privileged dossier which cannot be freed for persons to take home and just go over it.
Gobhoza also reiterated that the families only want the privileged report for purposes of closure and that other materials are not being sought for purposes of apportioning blame.
Botswana police Superintendents, Keokeditswe Sobatha, Ricardo Mabotho and assistant superintendent Shepherd Ntobedzi were killed when a helicopter they were piloting crashed on 20th of April 2014 in the Gumare/Maun wilderness on an anti-poaching mission.
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.