The Civil Aviation Authority (CAAB) has appointed a committee to investigate reports that a South African Air Force pilot eluded Airport security and violated airspace protocol by flying into Botswana to visit a friend.
This has been confirmed by CAAB Chief Executive officer, Major General Jefferson Thokwane.
The South African Defence Force has also grounded the errant pilot and appointed a commission of inquiry into the reports.
According to a weekly South African newspaper, the pilot flew into Botswana with a ‘borrowed’ Cessna 172 without an approved flight plan and without obtaining permission to enter Botswana’s airspace.
“Since we got that report, I have set in motion a traffic control team to investigate whether, in fact, an aircraft of that description did enter Botswana,” said Thokwane in an interview with the Sunday Standard.
“I have also engaged our defence attach├®’s in South Africa to assist us to establish if indeed this incident did occur,” he added.
It has also been alleged that the trip to Botswana was facilitated by a Botswana traffic controller believed to be a friend of the errant South African Defence Force pilot.
However, Thokwane says that there are no records to indicate that one of their officers is implicated as alleged.
“The situation is confusing because others allege it went to Zambia,” adding that the investigations would therefore be prolonged in order to allow for a through probe.
The authority has indicated that it is not taking the issue lightly. Thokwane has stated that he will take stern action if it emerges the incident did occur.
In a separate interview, the Director at the Directorate of Security and Intelligence Services (DIS), Isaac Kgosi, dismissed the report as unfounded.
“There is no military aircraft that can enter Botswana space, if it does BDF and us would know,” Kgosi said. “There are soldiers at the Gaborone Airport and if an aircraft was to land without a flight plan and approval from South African Defence, they would ground it.”
Kgosi also pointed out that the report was highly improbable because every flight that takes off has to have a flight plan unless, for instances, if it commutes from a farm or private property. He said that even if it were to take off from a farm it still required a flight pass. He said that there was no way the plane could have evaded Botswana’s radar detection.