Botswana government is facing a lawsuit by two Dukwi based refugees who are claiming P1 million worth of damages. The Ugandan refugees Musa Isarbirye and Timothy Yamin claim to have been afflicted to general damages in the amount of P500 000 each.
The refugees, through their lawyer Martin Dingake of Dingake Law Partners, stated in their court papers filed this week before Justice Nthomiwa that as a result of the arrest, they suffered costs “for unlawful arrest, detention, and deprivation of liberty for the time they spent detained from the 11th March 2014 until the 25th June 2014.”
The refugees therefore want the court to order that the government – represented by Attorney General Athaliah Molokomme pay damages to the amount of P500 000 each for their unlawful arrest, detention and deprivation of liberty for the time they spent in jail. In addition they want government to foot the cost of the suit and further and/or alternative relief.
The court matter arises following the duo’s recent triumph for unlawful detention. Justice Phadi Solomon who presided over the matter at Francistown High Court ruled that “the applicants (Yamin and Isabirye) are hereby released to Dukwi Refugee Settlement Camp forthwith.”
The refugees had taken the government to court to declare that their detention was unlawful and unconstitutional and the courts ruled in their favour. The government was also ordered to pay costs of the application to be agreed or taxed.
According to the court papers before Justice Nthomiwa, which the WeekendPost, are in possession of, on the 11th March 2014 the Plaintiffs were arrested without a warrant and were locked up at the Central Police Station where they were later transferred to Molepolole Prison on the 28th March 2014 by members of the Botswana Police Services who were either acting jointly and or severally and are unknown to the Plaintiffs.
This publication further learnt that thereafter the Plaintiffs were detained at Molepolole Prison from the 28th March 2014 until a week later on or around the 7th April 2014, when they were transferred to the Francistown Centre for Illegal Immigrants at the insistence of the Molepolole Prison Wardens and or other various officers whose names and ranks are to the refugees unknown.
It is understood that the said police officers and prison wardens were acting within the scope and course of their employment as police officers of the Botswana Police Services and under the Botswana Prison Services.
The Defendants, Attorney General Molokomme, Ministry of Justice, Defence, and Security and, Center for illegal immigrants, and the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, are therefore said to be vicariously liable for their acts, omissions and or wrongful conduct.
“At the time that the Plaintiffs were detained and or arrested the aforesaid police officers had no reasonable belief that the Plaintiff had committed or was about to commit a criminal offence.”
It is understood that the refugees were put in filthy custody holding cells and placed in the company of hardened criminals. The matter is expected to be heard in court soon.
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.