The feud between Shashe squatters and Tawana Land Board is now at its peak, a Tawana Land Board official, Kgato Motai disclosed recently in a fully packed Kgotla meeting at Shashe.
The land board is said to be still hunting for some of the remaining squatters, following the December 2012 eviction of some residents of a so called illegal settlement at Shashe Bridge in Maun.
The sub land board chairman, Motai dashed the hopes of many anxious residents who attended the meeting in large numbers with high hopes that he brought good news about their pleas for land when he instead told them the meeting was no ordinary one but a warning to the illicit settlers.
According to the land board official, the eviction of the squatters was incomplete since some of them had appealed to the high court, and were given a one year waiver to have moved out of Shashe which is said to be a sensitive flood plain area. He added that since the one year period had elapsed, the land board will do a follow up to establish whether all the affected people had moved.
Motai revealed to the residents that the yellow monster is on the way especially for those who settled in that area after land allocation was transferred from Dikgosi and land overseers to the Ministry of Lands and Housing. He further said some of the squatters were rightful land owners who had decided to sell their plots and became squatters in Shashe.
He however conceded that land board officials had also made mistakes as some residents who were born in Shashe and were its oldest residents were also affected during the 2012 eviction but said that would be corrected and compensation be paid.
One of the oldest residents born in Shashe, Fanabi Karome, who was also an assistant to the land overseer, condemned the 2012 land board assessments which were conducted before the 2012 demolition as inaccurate as he said the oldest born residents of Shashe from the families of Mbwe, Motlhabani and others were the mostly affected.
Karome said he suspected that things might not have been done properly at Tawana Land Board as there are now new settlers in Shashe with certificates for their plots, yet it was said there would be more land allocations in the area. “I suspect there is land dealing either by you or your colleague,” he charged.
He further questioned Motai on the 2004 rule where Tawana Land Board ruled out that land overseers should allocate open spaces between allocated plots, to which Motai responded also that indeed things were not done appropriately at that time, as land overseers were supposed to have stopped allocation in 1996 as physical planners had by then revealed that settlers would destroy the vegetation.
When responding to another attendant, who wanted to know why allocation in Shashe was not allowed, Motai explained that the area had been proven by physical planners as unsafe for human settlement or human activity, owing to it being an island. He said building on it would expose settlers to floods, the area, said Motai is also a tourism attraction site and its natural beauty has to be left as is. He also said pollution could occur if people were allowed to settle there as Shashe is the main water source for Maun.
Another resident Ofentse Marewa questioned whether the eviction targeted the blacks only as there are some white settlers along the river bank who never attend any meeting, asking whether they were not destroying the vegetation. Motai clarified that all the whites have certificates and they are the ones owning vegetable farms where most residents work.
Motai went on to warn some residents to stop seeking false witness from Dikgosi in order to be assisted by the land board officials. The sub land board chairman told the crowd that another assessment would be undertaken to see if the remaining people who had land rights at Shashe should be removed or left there.
Despite being hailed and still regarded as a hero who saved many lives through his decision to crash the BF5 fighter Jet around the national stadium on the eve of the 2018 BDF day, the deceased Pilot, Major Clifford Manyuni’s actions were treated as a letdown within the army, especially by his master-Commander of the Air Arm, Major General Innocent Phatshwane.
Manyuni’s master says he was utterly disappointed with his Pilot’s failure to perform “simple basics.”
Manyuni was regarded as a hero through social media for his ‘colourful exploits’, but Phatshwane who recently retired as the Air Arm Commander, revealed to WeekendPost in an exclusive interview that while he appreciated Batswana’s outpouring of emotions and love towards his departed Pilot, he strongly felt let down by the Pilot “because there was nothing wrong with that Fighter Jet and Manyuni did not report any problem either.”
The deceased Pilot, Manyuni was known within the army to be an upwardly mobile aviator and in particular an air power proponent.
“I was hurt and very disappointed because nobody knows why he decided to crash a well-functioning aircraft,” stated Phatshwane – a veteran pilot with over 40 years of experience under the Air Arm unit.
Phatshwane went on to express shock at Manyuni’s flagrant disregard for the rules of the game, “they were in a formation if you recall well and the guiding principle in that set-up is that if you have any problem, you immediately report to the formation team leader and signal a break-away from the formation.
Manyuni disregarded all these basic rules, not even to report to anybody-team members or even the barracks,” revealed Phatshwane when engaged on the much-publicised 2018 incident that took the life of a Rakops-born Pilot of BDF Class 27 of 2003/2004.
Phatshwane quickly dismisses the suggestion that perhaps the Fighter Jet could have been faulty, “the reasons why I am saying I was disappointed is that the aircraft was also in good condition and well-functioning. It was in our best interest to know what could have caused the accident and we launched a wholesale post-accident investigation which revealed that everything in the structure was working perfectly well,” he stated.
Phatshwane continued: “we thoroughly assessed the condition of the engine of the aircraft as well as the safety measures-especially the ejection seat which is the Pilot’s best safety companion under any life-threatening situation. All were perfectly functional.”
In aircrafts, an ejection seat or ejector seat is a system designed to rescue the pilot or other crew of an aircraft in an emergency. The seat is propelled out of the aircraft by an explosive charge or rocket motor, carrying the pilot with it.”
Manyuni knew about all these safety measures and had checked their functionality prior to using the Aircraft as is routine practice, according to Phatshwane. Could Manyuni have been going through emotional distress of some sort? Phatshwane says while he may never really know about that, what he can say is that there are laid out procedures in aviation guiding instances of emotional instability which Manyuni also knew about.
“We don’t allow or condone emotionally or physically unfit Pilots to take charge of an aircraft. If a Pilot feels unfit, he reports and requests to be excused. We will subsequently shift the task to another Pilot. We do this because we know the risks of leaving an unfit pilot to fly an aircraft,” says Phatshwane.
Despite having happened a day before the BDF day, Phatshwane says the BDF day mishap did not really affect the BDF day preparations, although it emotionally distracted Manyuni’s flying formation squad a bit, having seen him break away from the formation to the stone-hearted ground. The team soldiered on and immediately reported back to base for advice and way forward, according to Phatshwane.
Sharing the details of the ordeal and his Pilots’ experiences, Phatshwane said: “they (pilots) were in distress, who wouldn’t? They were especially hurt by the deceased‘s lack of communication. I immediately called a chaplain to attend to their emotional needs.
He came and offered them counselling. But soldiers don’t cry, they immediately accepted that a warrior has been called, wiped off their tears and instantly reported back for duty. I am sure you saw them performing miracles the following day at the BDF day as arranged.”
Despite the matter having attracted wide publicity, the BDF kept the crash details a distance away from the public, a move that Phatshwane felt was not in the best interest of the army and public.
“The incident attracted overwhelming public attention. Not only that, there were some misconceptions attached to the incident and I thought it was upon the BDF to come out and address those for the benefit of the public and army’s reputation,” he said.
One disturbing narrative linked to the incident was that Manyuni heroically wrestled the ‘faulty’ aircraft away from the endangered public to die alone, a narrative which Phatshwane disputes as just people’s imaginations. “Like I said the Aircraft was functioning perfectly,” he responded.
A close family member has hinted that the traumatised Manyuni family, at the time of their son’s tragedy, strongly accused the BDF ‘of killing their son’. Phatshwane admits to this development, emphasising that “Manyuni’s mother was visibly and understandably in inconsolable pain when she uttered those words”.
Phatshwane was the one who had to travel to Rakops through the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) aircraft to deliver the sad news to the family but says he found the family already in the know, through social media. At the time of his death, Manyuni was survived by both parents, two brothers, a sister, fiancée and one child. He was buried in Rakops in an emotionally-charged burial. Like his remains, the BDF fighter jets have been permanently rested.
A matter in which former President Lt Gen Ian Khama had brought before Broadhurst Police Station in Gaborone, requesting the State to charge Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) lead investigator, Jako Hubona and others with perjury has been committed to Headquarters because it involves “elders.”
Broadhurst Police Station Commander, Obusitswe Lokae, told this publication this week that the case in its nature is high profile so the matter has been allocated to his Officer Commanding No.3 District who then reported to the Divisional Commander who then sort to commit it to Police Headquarters.