Botswana 'suicide' aircraft crash not the first in that country

25 March 2019 - 15:26 By ERNEST MABUZA
The pilot of a King Air plane crashed into the clubhouse at the Matsieng Aerodrome near Rasesa, north of Gaborone, Botswana, on Saturday.
The pilot of a King Air plane crashed into the clubhouse at the Matsieng Aerodrome near Rasesa, north of Gaborone, Botswana, on Saturday.
Image: Suburban Control Centre

While an investigation is under way into an apparent "suicide" aircraft crash at the Matsieng Air Strip in Botswana, reports are emerging that this was not the first such incident in that country.

On Saturday, a pilot allegedly committed suicide by flying a light aircraft into a clubhouse at the airport after being involved in an altercation at a function there.

Unconfirmed reports suggested the pilot worked for a charter company in Botswana and had been involved in an altercation with a woman.

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 plane hit the building.

Following the incident, TimesLIVE was made aware of a a similar incident that took place in October 1999, when a disgruntled pilot nearly wiped out the Air Botswana fleet, at the time the only scheduled air operator in that country.

After that incident,  BBC News reported that Chris Phatswe, a Botswana airline pilot, killed himself by crashing a plane into the airport. He hit two other aircraft at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport in Gaborone.

Phatswe had been grounded for medical reasons and transferred to the position of aircraft safety officer.

He took off from the airport in a Botswana Air aircraft without permission and radioed the control tower to say he intended to kill himself.