The Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB) through their Fire Department is compromising on the safety of their passengers, reports have revealed. According to information reaching this publication, in all four CAAB stations throughout the country, firemen have not undergone rigorous training since 2010.
Fire fighters are supposed to undertake emergency fire exercises after every two years.
According to impeccable sources, before CAAB took over from the Department of Civil Aviation in 2010, they used to attend refresher courses at Singapore, Thailand and Britain. Firemen should undergo training every year and that is not the case with CAAB.
This has since left the four stations understaffed and in order to keep up with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) some of their staff members were recruited to senior positions after taking theoretical courses and were certified without undertaking rigorous training. The arrangement was initially for them to undertake practical training in South Africa in 2013 but that deal was never seen through.
It has also emerged that this has always been blamed on financial constraints but on the bigger picture, fingers are pointing towards the organisational structure. The organisation has been facing some structural squabbles that saw their former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Major Jefferson Thokwane resign last year and some employees were retrenched. Some of the positions in the organisational structure were faced out.
In response to a Weekend Post questionnaire, the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB)’s Modipe Nkwe maintained that rescue fire services teams underwent mandatory First Aid Level III refresher course in January 2011 and October 2013. It was further revealed that the entire team would undergo refresher training during the 2015/16 financial year which begins in April 2015. In addition, 43 firemen are scheduled to undergo rigorous practical training at Lanseria International Airport in South Africa in April 2015.
ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) of 2013 rated Botswana at 54.3% above African average of 41%. The Botswana rating was just below the global average of 60%. Two Significant Safety Concerns were also identified and are currently being addressed. It is hoped that another audit will take place this year to validate progress made.
Last week Friday the Sir Seretse Khama Airport Fire Chief retired. According to the Fire Department Act, the CAAB should not operate a fire station without a Fire Chief. This publication can also reveal that the two stations of Francistown and Kasane are headed by Senior Fire Officers instead of Principal Fire Officers and these people work on shifts meaning they don’t work normal hours. In the event of an accident no one will take full responsibility at the command post.
“Our immediate past Fire Chief Officer reached the compulsory retirement age at the end of last month- February 2015. A decision on the position will be made during the on-going organisational restructuring process in accordance with the Botswana Civil Aviation Act and the Civil Aviation (Aerodromes) Regulations” CAAB wrote in response to this publication.
Each of the three rescue fire services shifts at both Kasane and Francistown airports is headed by a Senior Fire Officer, accountable to the Principal Airport Operations Officer, according to CAAB.
While commenting on the issue of shortage of equipment and the use of old vehicles CAAB said fire fighting equipment was procured during the 2013/14 financial year. The equipment included Jaws of Life, breathing apparatus, chemical dry power equipment, etc. In addition, fire fighters were supplied with new protective clothing fire suits, fire boots and breathing apparatus masks. Potable fire extinguishers are serviced or replaced as at intervals which are specified by manufacturers. The tender documents for procurement of protective clothing for the newly recruited 31 fire fighters are reportedly being finalised.
CAAB has a total of 15 rescue fire services vehicles. The three units at SSKIA, which are the latest, were delivered in September 2011. Their response was that fire vehicles are designed for longer useable life span ranging from 10 to 20 years. To further enhance rescue fire services, Rapid Intervention Vehicles and Command (Emergency Site Communication) vehicles will be purchased during 2015/16 financial year.
WeekendPost can safely reveal that between 2012- 13 South African Express had wanted to operate in Botswana flying to Kasane but the deal was halted after they doubted CAAB’s safety measures. When their auditors came here they found that the staff was not well trained and the deal didn’t materialise.
Their counterparts, SA Link have provided light two day training courses to some employees to refresh them. However CAAB argued that Kasane International airside facilities were upgraded recently and the runway upgrade works were carried out between November 2011 and July 2014.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
“Botswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,” says Dr. Kwape. He wouldn’t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
“We will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,“ he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the “Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.”
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
“SADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,” the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceased’s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrate’s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
“The third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,” Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
“Yesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,” said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12th of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Aston’s children) are staying.
“Thato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,” said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
“I have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,” Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
“Phillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mall” the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the “unknown caller” and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused, Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6th of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
“We spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine – that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,” said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herder’s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,” said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).