DISS pilot who flew Khama to Mosu redeployed and grounded

Nicholas Mokwena - BG reporter
Tuesday, 04 December 2018
DISS pilot who flew Khama to Mosu redeployed and grounded

The fight between President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi and his predecessor Dr. Ian Khama has now reached the spy agency, as agents go after each other’s throats due to allegiance. There are claims that since Dr. Masisi became President and fired former Director General of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Isaac Kgosi, plans are underway to purge those who align themselves with Kgosi and Dr. Khama.

The claim has since been dismissed by the DISS Director General, Brigadier Peter Magosi who was appointed by Masisi to replace Kgosi. Recently the DISS system was hacked and suspicions were that the previous administration was involved and an investigation was launched. This week Botswana Guardian discovered that a senior DISS official has taken his employer to court after he was redeployed to a junior position allegedly because of his involvement with Dr. Khama and Kgosi. The officer is challenging the decision of the DISS Acting Director General who redeployed him from the Air Wing Division (Unit) of the DISS to its Corporate Services Division and wants it set aside. “The decision I submit, is unlawful and unreasonable as I was moved from being a pilot to a Clerk (or Administrator) without my consent and outside my scope of duties that I have trained for,” reads a founding Affidavit of Opelonomi Edwin Matlhagela, the DISS Principal Intelligence Officer.

In the court documents seen by this publication Matlhagela points out that even though his employment letter does not say he is employed as a Pilot, he was specifically recruited from the Civil Aviation Authority Botswana (CAAB) as a pilot and he is a qualified pilot, to fly DISS aircraft. To buttress this, he cites General Order 88, which stipulates that the Flying Allowance is payable to officers employed as pilots and to no other cadres, as indicated in his payslip.

“Much to my shock and surprise, I was on the 27th July 2018, served with a letter redeploying me from the Air Wing (where I served as a Pilot) to the Corporate Services Division. It is important to point out that when I querried the justification for the change and what the role entailed, I was only given an unsigned note by my supervisor Tshegofatso Dioka. “As it would appear from the profile are (sic) not technical but merely clerical in nature as they include procurement of all logistical needs for Air Unit and their personnel. I am also in charge of booking accommodation for the crew. I submit that for this role, one cannot be entitled to receive the flying allowance, scare skill allowance and overtime,” reads the court documents.

Matlhagela argues that the redeployment was unlawful as it essentially amounts to a unilateral variation of his employment contract as, “I did not consent to it. It was just arbitrary and harsh”. He contends that the duties are vastly different and in no way related as one is a professional and skilled role and the other is a clerical and support staff function. “I have not been given reasons why I was redeployed but I can only infer that it is because it is believed that I am associated with the previous Director General of the DISS Isaac Kgosi. I say this because after he left, I was asked by Tino Phuthego why I took an instruction from him to fly the previous president Lieutenant General Dr. Seretse Khama Ian Khama to Mosu. “I responded by saying I was merely executing an instruction as a subordinate as in my line of duty I have been given instructions to fly people, sometimes for purposes unknown to me. As a pilot flying is important to me and I am personally losing the hours necessary for my growth and experience,” says Matlhagela who has instructed Ndadi Law Firm to argue his case in court.

One of the reasons why Isaac Kgosi was fired is said to have been because he unlawfully lent the former President a DISS aircraft. Court documents show that Matlhagela was a Commercial Pilot according to a license from CAAB. In a letter of redeployment signed by Acting DISS Director General Modiri Kooagile dated 27th July 2018, Matlhagela is redeployed to the Corporate Service Division as the Air Liaison Officer.  The redeployment according to Kooagile does not affect Matlhagela’s salary scale. Court documents further indicate that Matlhagela on the 4th of July 2018 lodged a grievance with the Director General regarding a decision to withdraw him from the Jet Transition Course and High-Altitude Decompression training which was aimed at readying him for flying the awaited Pilatus PC24 aircraft.

He also complained to the Director General that he has been grounded from flying by his supervisor Tino Phuthego since the 3rd of July 2018. In the grievance letter Matlhagela states that, “Tino Phuthego stated that I was never selected for Pilatus PC24 initial crew training, it was only a suggestion by management and not a decision. Phuthego stated that only he has the power to decide who get to fly any of the aircraft at the organisation and not management.”

Matlhagela’s lawyer Uyapo Ndadi argues in the papers that the redeployment was irrational as it appears to spite or frustrate his client as it comes soon after he formally lodged his grievances with respect to being denied the opportunity to go for further training and for being grounded as a Pilot with no valid reasons advanced.

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