Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Letlhakeng residents unhappy with BDF delay in giving compensation

It is almost more than six months after two Botswana Defense Force (BDF) air craft crashed in Letlhakeng in the Kweneng District. However, to this day, the BDF has still not compensated both the owners of the houses and the motor vehicle that were damaged during the horrific crash that left two pilots dead.

Letlhakeng residents accuse the BDF of dragging their feet in compensating the people who suffered both emotionally and economically after their properties were damaged by the two planes that crashed in their village.

“They take us for granted as if we are not human,” said John Tatai.

He says he wonders why the BDF is taking such a long time to compensate the people.

“We have long been waiting for the BDF to construct a new house that was damaged during the crash and it still has not happened,” said Olebile Senyang, the actual owner of the house that the planes crashed into.

He said that the building was demolished as part of a cleaning up exercise, adding that the BDF only told him that they cannot ascertain the dates when the new structure will be constructed.

“There is nothing that I can do because I have to wait for them to fulfill their promise,” he said, pointing out that his family is staying in a two and half house.

Senyang said he is still optimistic that the construction will take place.

Another victim, Kabo Seele, whose vehicle went up in flames when the plane crashed in the primary school said, “I am very bitter about the BDF’s behavior because they are not doing anything to ensure that I am compensated. As I speak to you now, I am unable to go to my cattle post and water my livestock.”

He added that he has to hire a vehicle to go to his cattle post and the exercise is costly for him.
The ward councilor, Samuel Gapane, also shared the same sentiments.

He said he, however, suspects that the delay might have been caused by lack of funds due to the fact that the financial year was almost coming to the end when the accident occurred.

Letlhakeng District Commissioner, George Mogome, said the sole responsibility of compensation lies with BDF therefore he is unable to comment on the matter.

“One thing that I am sure of is that the council assisted the family which lost a house but it was on a temporary basis,” he said.

Meanwhile the head-teacher of Letlhakeng Primary School, Sibongile Matshambane, said that after the crash the pupils were traumatized by the accident.

She explained that every time when the pupils hear the sound of an engine, even of trucks driving by, they panic and speed out of classes thinking that it is another plane crash.

“It was a very sad situation that we could not handle and restoring them to classes was not an easy exercise,” she said, adding that the police had to be deployed at the school’s main gate so that they keep the pupils within the school yard. The head teacher said the BDF personnel were informed about the situation and initiated a counseling program.

“The counseling sessions were fruitful since the pupils are fine and learning is running smoothly in our school,” she said.

Matshambane, however, added that she is concerned about the motor vehicle scrap that was left after the crash as it has not been collected and is a constant reminder to the children as it creates flash backs.

BDF spokesperson, Colonel Paul Sharp, was not available when contacted for comment.

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