Crash victims' families slap police with deadline

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The families of three police officers who died in a helicopter crash while on duty last year, have approached the courts demanding that police produce a detailed report showing exactly what happened to their loved ones.

The three deceased officers, air wing captain superintendent Keokeditse Sobatha, inspector Ricardo Mabotho and assistant superintendent Shepherd Ntobedzi died on April 20, 2014, after the helicopter they were flying in was reported missing two days earlier.

Their families have insisted that police must respond to their demands by August 25, 2015.

In the papers before court, the Botswana Police Service, Minister of Transport and Communications, Director of Accident Investigation, Attorney General, Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana and Airbus helicopters Southern Africa are all cited as respondents.

In a notice filed before Lobatse High Court Judge Justice Abednico Tafa on July 29, 2015, the families, through their lawyers at Duma Boko and Co, request the police to provide all statements taken by the accident investigators.

They also state that they seek “all cockpit voice recording and transcripts from such recording of AS350 Euro-Copter bearing call sign BPS-02 from 20 April 2014 to the date of the accident”.

The families also want all meteorological records and information of Gumare to Maun (Okavango Delta) region from April 19 2014 up to 24 April 2014.

Lawyers are also demanding the service records of the helicopter used by the deceased officers, as well as certificates of airworthiness and registration records.

They are also demanding:

 - All communication between persons having been involved in the operation of the AS350 Euro-copter from 20 April 2014 to the date of the accident, inter alia, air traffic control communications and radar communication,

 - All the piloting crew’s licenses indicating both aircraft type and class ratings and currency requirement; whether they had night and instrument flying ratings, qualifications, most recent aviation medical certificate and record of fitness, performance and or capabilities of flying under the circumstances.  The families decided to approach the courts after police issued a 94-word report on the crash on December 17, 2014.

The December 17, 2014 report reads: “The investigations have been completed and we have reached a conclusion 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).”

In their submission, the families state that they suspect negligence on the part of the police.

“The said aircraft crash was a result of unlawful and/or negligent conduct of the Botswana Police Service and the respondents,” reads the notice.  They also believe that the deceased officers were commanded to pilot the aircraft at night whilst weather conditions were unstable.

“The crew was commanded to be piloted by an unqualified and/or unfit pilot in command and the said police helicopter had no night flying visual equipment or facilities.”

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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