WATCH | Cars burn as 'suicide pilot' flies into clubhouse after argument

24 March 2019 - 15:20 By ERNEST MABUZA
The pilot of a King Air B200 plane set fire to several cars after it crashed into the clubhouse of the Matsieng Aerodrome near Rasesa, north of Gaborone, Botswana, on Sunday.
The pilot of a King Air B200 plane set fire to several cars after it crashed into the clubhouse of the Matsieng Aerodrome near Rasesa, north of Gaborone, Botswana, on Sunday.
Image: Suburban Control Centre

A pilot reportedly committed suicide by allegedly flying a light aircraft into a clubhouse in Botswana after being involved in an altercation at a function held there.

Video footage of the King Air B200 plane, operated by a local charter company, flying low over the ground and then, in a second clip setting fire to several vehicles after it crashed into the Matsieng Aerodrome near Rasesa, north of Gaborone, circulated on social media on Sunday.

Botswana Civil Aviation Authority flight operations inspector Phemelo Chominyana confirmed that the incident had happened on Saturday but said by phone that he had no further details.

Initial, unconfirmed reports suggested that the pilot worked for a charter company in Botswana and had been involved in an altercation with a woman at the clubhouse.

After being told to leave the venue, he allegedly flew the aircraft towards the clubhouse, while phoning somebody at the function on the ground. People were told to evacuate just before the aircraft hit the building.

TimesLIVE reached out to the charter company for comment but a person who answered the phone there on Sunday declined to comment.

TimesLIVE is aware of the name of the pilot but there has been no official confirmation of his identity by police in Botswana.

The Matsieng Flying Club said in a statement on Sunday afternoon that the aircraft was involved in a "ground impact incident resulting in the death of the pilot" and destruction of infrastructure at Matsieng Aerodrome.

"Earlier in the afternoon the deceased pilot was an uninvited guest at a private function that was held at the Matsieng Flying Club facility at Matsieng Aerodrome. It is rumoured that the pilot was involved in a domestic dispute earlier in the afternoon.

"At approximately 18h15 the aircraft approached Matsieng Aerodrome from the direction of Sir Seretse Khama Airport and made a number of low level flypasts from different directions past the club facilities next to the air traffic control tower. Matsieng Flying Club members sensed that the pilot might have had an ulterior motive at the time and ordered an immediate evacuation of the club premises by the approximately fifty attendees.

"The final extreme low-level run by the aircraft along runway 36 resulted in an impact with the Matsieng Flying Club facility at ground level. The club facility and Matsieng ATC tower was destroyed on impact. The post impact fire destroyed 13 parked vehicles."

The club said there were no other injuries and that emergency services from the Kgatleng District Council were on the scene within minutes.

"It is believed that the pilot had no permission to fly the aircraft involved. The loss of life and damage is regretted."

* This story was updated at 4:40pm on Sunday.