Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Police helicopter crash victims’ families sue state

Families of police officers who last year died in a helicopter crash are suing government to release a report on the circumstances that led to the fatal crash. A statutory notice was last week served on the president of Botswana, Botswana Police Service, Ministry of Defence Justice and Security, the Civil Aviation authority of Botswana and the attorney General’s Chambers. The notice, signed by Malcolm Thabo Gobhoza of Duma Boko and Company states:

Sometime on or around 20th April 2014 the late Superintendent Keokeditswe Sobatha, Assistant Superintendent Shepherd Ntobedzi and Inspector Ricardo Modiri Mabotho while within the course and scope of their employment and duly under official duty and command to piloten route Gumare to Maun in a police helicopter being AS350 Euro-copter bearing call sign BPS-02 were involved in a fatal aircraft crash which fate claimed their lives. The notice states that subsequent to the said accident the Applicants herein, being the authorised representatives of the victims’ families convened with various officers of the 1st Respondent for purposes of augmenting a fast release of a formal comprehensive report to the respective families which report was to entail among other things, the planed route, radar communications, helicopter serviceability record, the crew’s qualifications, performance and or capabilities record. However to the applicant’s dismay, the 1st respondent only issued unsubstantiated one paged letters to the respective families dated 17th December 2014 which letters purported to be the police report on the subject matter. The notice states that In terms of the said inadequate purported report, 1st respondent stated that:“…There is a high possibility that the accident was caused by spatial disorientation of the crew as a result of flying at night in unstable weather conditions (low clouds)…” The notice indicated that despite continuous lawful requests and instances by and on behalf of the applicants for the release of a detailed report, the Respondents have failed, neglected and or refused to rise to the occasion of assisting the applicants.

The notice further indicated that it is a well reflected view of the applicants that the said aircraft crash was as a result of the unlawful and or negligent conduct of the 1st to 5th respondents in any of the following grounds: The late superintendent Sobatha, assistant superintendentNtobedzi and Inspector Mabotho were commanded to pilot in AS350 Euro-copter bearing call sign BPS-02 at night whilst weather conditions were unstable, which fact the 1st and 5th respondents were fully aware of The pilots were not due to fly at night, as they had not undergone the requisite training for flying at night……. It further states that the crew was commanded to be piloted by an unqualified and or unfit pilot in command; and the helicopter had no night flying visual equipment or facilities.

The applicants shall therefore institute proceedings for production of the report of the subject matter, unless if the respondents do produce a satisfactory report within the 30 days of this notice and the Applicants shall further claim delictual damages for the pain they suffered upon the loss of their beloved ones, loss of support and any other and further damages as may be deemed suitable and in which event costs shall be sought at Attorney and own client scale against the respondents.


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