A Botswana Defence Force (BDF) aircraft ferrying a Cabinet minister, diplomats and government officials from Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park to Sir Seretse Khama airport made an emergency landing at Thebephatswa airbase on Friday after developing technical problems mid air.
The plane was carrying Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, Namibian Ambassador Hishonjwa, American Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Drouinand, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Tourism, Geylard Kombani, Director of Immigration Gaealafswe, Botswana Tourism Board CEO Myra Sekgororoane, HATAB CEO Ntloedibe-Disele and KCS Chairperson Joe Matome. The group was returning from the Mata-Mata Tourist Access Facility border crossing which was officially opened by Presidents Festus Mogae, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia on Friday.
About 10 minutes after take off, the plane developed low pressure complications, forcing the pilot to switch off one of the engines and divert the plane, now using only one engine, to Thebephatswa air base where it made the emergency landing.
Botswana President Festus Mogae hosted his counterparts from South Africa and Namibia at the opening of the new border crossing on Friday. The new border post will allow for easier movement between the three countries.
The Mata-Mata Tourist Access Facility border crossing is situated in a desert area where the borders of western Botswana, northern South Africa and eastern Namibia lead to the giant Transfrontier wildlife park of Kgalagadi (formerly Kalahari).
The sprawling 3.6-million-hectare Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Africa’s first trans-border park, encompasses Gemsbok National Park in Botswana and Kalahari Gemsbok Park in South Africa, along the Namibia border.
The park is home to black-mane lions, leopards, African wild dogs and a variety of antelope and other animals.
“FIFA has said it expects around 450,000 visitors to travel to South Africa for the tournament, from which neighboring countries also hope to benefit through increased tourist arrivals,” the park’s management committee said in a statement. “Mata-Mata will enable tourists to travel between the three countries via shorter routes and through efficient and convenient access/border control facilities.”