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.
Former Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) Member of Parliament for Gaborone North, Haskins Nkaigwa has confirmed his departure from opposition fold to re-join the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).
Nkaigwa said opposition is extremely divided and the leadership not in talking terms. “They are planning evil against each other. Nothing much will be achieved,” Nkaigwa told WeekendPost.
“I believe my time in the opposition has come to an end. It’s time to be of value to rebuilding our nation and economy of the country. Remember the BDP is where I started my political journey. It is home,” he said.
“Despite all challenges currently facing the world, President Masisi will be far with his promises to Batswana. A leader always have the interest of the people at heart despite how some decisions may look to be unpopular with the people.
“I have faith and full confidence in President Dr Masisi leadership. We shall overcome as party and nation the current challenges bedevilling nations. BDP will emerge stronger. President Masisi will always have my backing.”
Nkaigwa served as opposition legislator between 2014-2019 representing Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) under UDC banner. He joined BMD in 2011 at the height public servant strike whilst Gaborone City Deputy Mayor. He eventually rose to become the mayor same year, after BDP lost majority in the GCC.
Nkaigwa had been a member of Botswana National Front (BNF), having joined from Alliance for Progressives (AP) in 2019.
Botswana has received assistance worth over P100 million from Japanese government since 2019, making the latter of the largest donors to Botswana in recent years.
The assistance include relatively large-scale grant aid programmes such as the COVID-19 programme (to provide medical equipment; P34 million), the digital terrestrial television programme (to distribute receivers to the underprivileged, P17 million), the agriculture promotion programme (to provide agricultural machinery and equipment, P53million).
“As 2020 was a particularly difficult year, where COVID-19 hit Botswana’s economy and society hard, Japan felt the need to assist Botswana as our friend,” said Japan’s new Ambassador to Botswana, Hoshiyama Takashi.
“It is for this reason that grants of over P100 million were awarded to Botswana for the above mentioned projects.”
Japan is now the world’s fourth highest ranking donor country in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA).
From 1991 to 2000, Japan continued as the top donor country in the world and contributed to Asia’s miracle economic development.
From 1993 onwards, the TICAD process commenced through Japan’s initiative as stated earlier. Japan’s main contribution has been in the form of Yen Loans, which are at a concessional rate, to suit large scale infrastructure construction.
“In Botswana, only a few projects have been implemented using the Yen Loan such as the Morupule “A” Power Station Rehabilitation and Pollution Abatement in 1986, the Railway Rolling Stock Increase Project in 1987, the Trans-Kalahari Road Construction Project in 1991, the North-South Carrier Water Project in 1995 and the Kazungula Bridge Construction Project in 2012,” said Ambassador Hoshiyama.
“In terms of grant aid and technical assistance, Japan has various aid schemes including development survey and master planning, expert dispatch to recipient countries, expert training in Japan, scholarships, small scale grass-roots program, culture-related assistance, aid through international organizations and so on.”
In 1993, Japan launched Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) to promote Africa’s development, peace and security, through the strengthening of relations in multilateral cooperation and partnership.
TICAD discuss development issues across Africa and, at the same time, present “aid menus” to African countries provided by Japan and the main aid-related international organizations, United Nations (UN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank.
“As TICAD provides vision and guidance, it is up to each African country to take ownership and to implement her own development following TICAD polices and make use of the programmes shown in the aid menus,” Ambassordor Hoshiyama noted.
“This would include using ODA loans for quality infrastructure, suited to the country’s own nation-building needs. It is my fervent hope that Botswana will take full advantage of the TICAD process.”
Since then, seven conferences where held, the latest, TICAD 7 being in 2019 at Yokohama. TICAD 7’s agenda on African development focused on three pillars, among them the first pillar being “Accelerating economic transformation and improving business environment through innovation and private sector engagement”.
“Yes, private investment is very important, while public investment through ODA (Official Development Assistance) still plays an indispensable role in development,” the Japanese Ambassador said.
“For further economic development in Africa, Japan recognizes that strengthening regional connectivity and integration through investment in quality infrastructure is key.”
Japan has emphasized the following; effective implementation of economic corridors such as the East Africa Northern Corridor, Nacala Corridor and West Africa Growth Ring; Quality infrastructure investment in line with the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment should be promoted by co-financing or cooperation through the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Japan.
Japan also emphasized the establishment of mechanisms to encourage private investment and to improve the business environment.
According to the statistics issued by Japan’s Finance Ministry, Japan invested approximately 10 billion US dollars in Africa after TICAD 7 (2019) to year end 2020, but Japanese investment through third countries are not included in this figure.
“With the other points factored in, the figure isn’t established yet,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
The next conference, TICAD 8 will be held in Tunisia in 2022. This will be the second TICAD summit to be held on the African continent after TICAD 6 which was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
According to Ambassador Hoshiyama, in preparation for TICAD 8, the TICAD ministerial meeting will be held in Tokyo this year. The agenda to be discussed during TICAD 8 has not yet been fully deliberated on amongst TICAD Co-organizers (Japan, UN, UNDP, the World Bank and AU).
“Though not officially concluded, given the world situation caused by COVID-19, I believe that TICAD 8 will highlight health and medical issues including the promotion of a Universal Health Coverage (UHC),” said Hoshiyama.
“As the African economy has seriously taken a knock by COVID-19, economic issues, including debt, could be an item for serious discussion.”
The promotion of business is expected to be one of the most important topics. Japan and its partners, together with the business sector, will work closely to help revitalize private investment in Africa.
“All in all, the follow-up of the various programs that were committed by the Co-Organizers during the Yokohama Plan of Actions 2019 will also be reviewed as an important item of the agenda,” Ambassador Hoshiyama said.
“I believe that this TICAD follow-up mechanism has secured transparency and accountability as well as effective implementation of agreed actions by all parties. The guiding principle of TICAD is African ownership and international partnership.”
Directorate on Intelligence Services (DIS) Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi is said to be hell-bent and pushing President Mokgweetsi Masisi to reshuffle his cabinet as a matter of urgency since a number of his ministers are conflicted.
The request by Magosi comes at a time when time is ticking on his contract which is awaiting renewal from Masisi.
This publication learns that Magosi is unshaken by the development and continues to wield power despite uncertainty hovering around his contractual renewal.