Aircraft crash victims’ families drop P15m suit 

SHARE   |   Monday, 05 June 2017   |   By Shingirai Madondo
Gaborone High Court Judge Justice Motswagole Gaborone High Court Judge Justice Motswagole

Families of the three members of the Botswana Police Services (BPS) who were involved in a fatal aircraft crash which claimed their lives have withdrawn the P15million suit against Government. On April 20, 2014 Superintendent Keokeditswe Sobatha, Assistant Superintendent Shepherd Ntobedzi and Inspector Ricardo Mabotho were involved in a fatal aircraft crash some few kilometres west of Maun. Subsequent to the development, the families filed a suit before the Gaborone High Court, through their lawyer, Malcom Gobhoza of Gobhoza Legal Practice demanding a total of P15 072 217.39 from the BPS. The families’ lawyer has since written to Attorney Generals (AGs) notifying them that his clients were withdrawing the proceedings. In his letter dated April 10, 2017, Gobhoza said they were withdrawing the proceedings with no option of reinstituting them, on condition that each party shall bear their own costs. On the 12th of April 2017, the AGs chambers considered Gobhoza’s offer to withdraw the proceedings without the liberty to reinstitute. The matter was set down on Friday morning before Gaborone High Court Judge Justice Motswagole. “Upon hearing both parties, it is ordered that the plaintiffs be granted leave to withdraw this action against the defendants and that no order for costs,” reads part of the draft order. 

The families allegedly decided to withdraw the matter following the realisation that there were no prospects of success in the proceedings. In the plaintiffs’ declaration, the families averred that the air crash was as a result of the BPS’ willful and unlawful and or negligent conduct in any and or all were commanded to pilot at night. Besides piloting at night, the plaintiffs averred that the aircrew was commanded to pilot an unserviced AS350 Euro-copter bearing call sign BPS-02 and air worthy helicopter at night when the weather conditions were unstable. The families claimed that they suffered emotional shock, stress and loss of consortium and servitium. Furthermore, the families also claimed for the loss of prospective and accrued financial benefits in that ever since the death of the deceased persons, the plaintiffs have been ejected from institutionalised housing within which they occupied. Thato Mujaji, the government attorney, averred through her defendant’s plea that the deceased were not instructed or commanded to fly at night and therefore they were not within the course and scope of their employment. “The helicopter had no night flying visual equipment or facilities as it was manufactured without such and the pilots were aware that the helicopter was not equipped with the device and as such the pilot was not commanded to fly at night,” reads part of the defendant’s plea.