- Aircraft was not cleared with BURS
- Aircraft was not detectable because it was flying low
- Pilot had not have filed flight plan
- Pilot was reportedly eager about insurance
A final report on the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the life of iconic rapper Sarona Motlhagodi alias Sasa Klass over a year ago has spawned several conspiracy theories surrounding the aircraft involved in the accident, The Botswana Gazette can reveal.
According to a report on the accident that The Botswana Gazette is in possession of, the helicopter involved in the crash was under South African registration and jurisdiction. “The pilot revealed that he had acquired the helicopter on a lease to own contract,” says the report.
“Once an aircraft is purchased by a citizen, it is expected to be properly cleared with Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) and then entered into the civil aircraft register, lest it raises unnecessary concerns/suspicions amongst relevant authorities.”
The report, which was compiled by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, notes that the fact that the helicopter pilot’s failure to file a flight plan delayed a coordinated search and rescue that may have been initiated earlier and increased the chances of saving the rap artist’s life.
It suggests that the accident may have been reported for insurance claims rather than to save the casualty’s life. “During the interview, a key witness in the investigations mentioned that the issue of insurance was raised by the pilot,” says the report.
“It was highlighted that the pilot had reported he lost his mobile phone and as such was not able to report to air traffic control himself and hence asked the key witness to relay the message about the crash to the authorities.”
While the witness gave contrasting statements as to when he placed calls seeking help from the authorities and which health post the late rapper was rushed to at the time of rescue, the investigations through the air traffic control log revealed his call was received at 2120hrs while he had initially said he placed his call at 2106hrs. “The investigation established that the passenger was rushed to a clinic in Sojwe and not Letlhakeng as the witness had previously reported,” the report says.
It is also reported that the pilot of the aircraft had remained behind when the late rapper was sent for medical attention “irrespective of what the actual relationship between the pilot and passenger was and whether he felt physically fine, in all fairness the pilot was the most suited to accompany her and nurse her.”
The Gazette has also established that the aircraft had an radio station licence issued by the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (ICASA) that had expired on 31 March 2019 and that the pilot had not flown solo prior to the accident.
In the aftermath of this accident, recommendations have since been made for the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana to work with BURS to devise a mechanism to ensure that foreign-registered aircraft in Botswana do not overstay without proper import clearance.