A shooting incident at the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) training in Ntwetwe Firing Range near Maun is said to have been a disaster waiting to happen, The Patriot on Sunday has learnt. Preliminary investigations are said to have pointed a finger at the ageing artillery equipment which were used during the exercise near Maun. The investigations also put the blame on the commanding officer for allowing the soldiers to use the ageing guns which were not initially inspected. The mortars, which were used during the exercise, are said to be old as they bought in 1982 from Zimbabwe. “The artillery mortars that were used were not even genuine one as they have long been condemned but they used them,” revealed the army source.
The gun, which was used during training, is said to have exploded after it failed to release the artillery mortar killing one soldier instantly and amputating the two leaving one with minor injuries. The four soldiers, who were on training, include three male and one female soldier. BDF through their Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole released a statement confirming the accident which happened during a gunnery course. Information gathered by this publication has revealed that the artillery mortar that caused the accident was bought in 1982 from Zimbabwe. Another concern raised by the military sources is that the artillery that was used at the firing range was not inspected before to check its effectiveness.
Recently outgoing BDF Commander Lieutenant General Gaolathe Galebotswe informed members of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) that most of their equipment was old. As part of their compensation the injured soldiers will get P93 risk allowance and their medical bills will be attended to by the army, sources revealed. “It is very strange because generator risk allowance is P400 while commissioned officers get P800 as risk allowance,” said one senior officer who urged the army to review the allowance. At the time of going to press, the BDF Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Dikobe has not responded to the questionnaire sent to him.