The Minister of Transport and Communications Tshenolo Mabeo has been instructed by the Gaborone High Court to release a confidential report on the findings of circumstances surrounding the crash of Botswana Police Service helicopter that claimed lives of three crew members.
The crash incident happened about two years ago.
Minister Mabeo had tried to resist favouring victims’ families saying the report was privileged.
The High Court however did not believe this.
This followed an application by family members of the crash victims.
However the defense counsel Malcom Gobhoza says though they are happy with the judgment there is highly possibility that the report might come out doctored as the High Court has ordered the names of the witnesses to be reducted from the report.`
Delivering the judgment last week Thursday justice Abednego Tafa ordered that the six respondents, Botswana Police Service, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Directorate of Accident and Investigation, Director of Accident, Attorney General as well as the Civil Aviation authority of Botswana should produce and make available to the applicants within fourteen (14) days from the date of judgment, all of the material which is in their position that includes statements taken from the persons by the accident investigators in the course of their investigation pertaining to a police helicopter, Cockpit voice recordings and transcripts, all meteorological records and information of Gumare to Maun (Okavango Delta) region from 19th April 2014 up to 24th April 2014 and records of flight plan.
“I would like to deal with the applicants’ demand for the production of the police report. It is the applicants’ case so they have a legitimate expectation that they would be furnished with a police report,” said Justice Tafa.
He stated that the expectation emanates from an undertaking by the police that relatives would be issued with the police report after investigations are concluded.
“According to the judge, the letter by Botswana Police created in the applicants, a legitimate expectation that they would be provided with the report.
Tafa ordered the applicants to keep the contents of the report confidential and not pass some information to anybody who is not party to these proceedings.
Speaking to The Telegraph after the judgment the defense counsel Gobhoza said though he is happy about the outcome of the judgment, there are a number of things that Justice Tafa did not address that he considered of paramount importance.
He said what is crucial is the fact that the minister will within fourteen days release the report which will probably address what might have led the helicopter to crash so that the affected families may have closure.
“There is a very high possibility that the report might be doctored,” said the lawyer for the applicants.
“As defense counsel I have no clues about the names of the witnesses as that information has never been availed to us,” he said.
He however said once they have been given the report, he will study it carefully and will weigh the options for the next step to take.
He revealed that his clients want to sue government for about P15 million.