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DIS deny grounding pilot

MPHO MOKWAPE
Magosi PIC: THALEFANG CHARLES
The Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have denied grounding their pilot for flying former president Ian Khama to Mosu sometime last year. The government’s spy unit said its employee, Opelonomi Matlhagela, was redeployed based on a policy that was adopted to set up Air Liaison Unit.

When denying the demotion, the DIS explained that when the decision was made for the unit, the employee stood out as a suitable candidate.

The post needed someone with aviation background and with knowledge of what was required in undertaking such missions, the intelligence agency claimed.

The deputy director general of the DIS, Modiri Kooagile, who admitted to have authored the letter that allegedly demoted Matlhagela, said the officer was identified as the suitable candidate with the requisite skills to set up the unit.

“Although he is a qualified pilot, he was employed first and foremost as an intelligence officer, hence his offer letter states that he is employed as a principal intelligence officer,” he explained. Kooagile revealed that the officer was consulted after the redeployment and asked to state the requirement needed to set up the unit and that he fully participated and submitted his requirements. He said it was not true that the unit was not merely a clerical office, but rather it requires technical expertise.

He noted that further, the officer also requested that he be allowed to continue flying. However, a decision has not been made on the request as currently the unit is being set up of which the officer is the only one in the unit.

“It is not true that the applicant was moved from a pilot to a clerk. He has previously worked in a job that was not predominately flying at civil aviation authority and he was recruited primarily as an intelligence officer and that depending on the needs of the organisation,” he said.

However, Matlhagela in his

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replying affidavit said the deputy was not being truthful in his affidavit. He noted that first he was not privy of any policy decision and has not been favoured with it, more so that he asked for it on numerous occasions.

“For all I know, I was called in by my supervisor following a trip from USA not to discuss policy decision, but the instruction I received from the previous director to fly former president to Mosu,” he explained.

Matlhagela said he has no knowledge of the policy and was never consulted nor made part of the decision-making and that he did not consent to it. However, he admitted that he was employed as an intelligence officer, but said he has no intelligence service background.

Matlhagela  said there was no position in the DIS of a pilot just like in the Botswana Defence Force where different professionals are not addressed by their titles, but by army ranks.

“I am hired to fly. I’m a pilot and flying hours are important to me in terms of my career and qualification as a pilot.

That is why I left my job because I wanted to fly. It is not for the security service to unilaterally vary my scope of work, any decision must be preceded by engagement and consensus must be reached,” he argued.

Matlhagela is now seeking review on grounds that the redeployment was unlawful and that it was unreasonable such that he has been reduced to a clerk at the stroke of a pen.

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