Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Letlhakeng BDF air crash victims still await compensation

Two years after a military aircraft crashed on the roof of a house in Letlhakeng, the owner of the house is still to be allowed back into the house built for him as compensation by the army
The victims have bitterly complained about BDF’s snail’s pace in completing the house they had promised to construct two years ago.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview area Member of Parliament expressed disappointment that it has taken so long to compensate civilian victims of a military accident. He attributed it to ethnic discrimination by BDF officials.

Speaking to The Telegraph the owner of the house hit by one of the two aircraft that collided mid air, Olefile Senyang, expressed his anger.

“I am very bitter about the conduct of BDF or any government official who was assigned to ensure that I should be compensated accordingly and compensated well in time.”

He explained that he spent the whole of 2012 trying to enquire about his compensation but was sent from pillar to post by government officials.

“The only answer that I was given by the BDF personnel was that there is no money to compensate me,” Senyang said with frustration. “I wanted to see President Khama and inform him how the BDF is treating me. I have been subjected to inhuman treatment. Where is Botho? Where is dignity? I know he will not be pleased to hear this,” he added.

He stated that around December last year the BDF officials came to him and informed him they would construct his five-room house and started digging the foundation.

“You will be shocked when I tell you that the house was only completed probability less than a month ago and one would even wonder why such a simple small house would take eight months to complete,” he said.

He wondered how long it would take to replace the furniture if it took so long to do the construction.

Senyang recalled one occasion where the builders had to stay for months without material. Upon enquiry he was told that there was no money.

He said he would plead with the BDF to hand over the keys and allow him to occupy the house. He further said the two-room house that he moved into after the bigger one was destroyed is too small. He says he has been inconvenienced for quite a long time.

“We want to occupy the house even if it’s not furnished,” he added.

Senyang’s daughter, Lindie, indicated that the family was only provided with a food basket for six months. After that the Council stopped without providing any explanation.

“Everything got burnt and we were left with nothing but nobody cared to provide us with those basic needs. My work mates came to my rescue after they donated me with kitchen utilities,” she said.

Another victim of the crash, Karabo Seele, who lost a car, also narrated a similar experience as that of the Senyang family.

He said the BDF was dragging its feet in compensating him for his Toyota hilux which was gutted when another plane crash landed on the school grounds.

“It is two years now but I have not received my compensation from the government from BDF.”

He said after the accident the BDF officers recorded statements and promised him that they would compensate him for the loss of his vehicle and goods that were inside.

A few months later he went to Thebephatshwa Air Base where he met BDF officials who confirmed that they would assist him with his compensation. He said that initially BDF wanted to give him P60 000 but upon further reasoning they increased the compensation to P100 000 which he still rejected.
“I suggested that they should go and buy the vehicle themselves,” he said.

Seele said it was a matter of total replacement since his car was burnt to ashes.

“To this day, I still await compensation,” he said adding: “What hurts me most is that at one stage the BDF said I should provide them with receipts that indicate how much money I had used to buy my vehicle. Some people may think that I am being impossible or crazy because I have rejected their offer.”

He said he would not be tempted to take the money as long as the amount is not enough. “After all its not the money I want. I want a replacement for the car.”?He explained that he had given up and lost hope that he would ever be assisted.

Member of Parliament for Letlhakeng East, Liakat Kablay said: “I am very disappointed by the conduct of our civil servants, its not the government but the officers.”

Kablay said civil servants look down upon Bakgalagadi, especially when they are to be assessed or provided with services that involve civil servants.

“This kind of attitudes hurts so much because always we have to beg as if we are not Batswana,” he added.

The MP emphasised that he will do what it takes to assist his constituency even though it is difficult.

Deputy Director of Protocol and Public Affairs, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Oye, would not say why it has taken so long for BDF to compensate crash victims as had been earlirer promised.

“We regret to inform you that we cannot provide you with information you requested because the issue raised in the questionnaire is a private matter between the BDF and individuals concerned”.
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Two years ago two planes collided in mid air during formation flying training in which two pilots, Captain Shepherd Ben Tamuhla, 33, of Maitengwe Village and Captain Ompatile Ken Sianang, also 33, of Serowe died while other two survived. One air craft crashed on the roof of a house while the other one exploded at Letlhakeng Primary School. No students were hurt.

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