The pilot who killed himself in an alleged emotional suicide run outside Botswana on Saturday evening has provisionally been identified as South African pilot Charl Viljoen, who was originally from Olifantshoek in the Northern Cape.
He and his wife had reportedly been living and working in Botswana for 10 years.
Reports of the astonishing kamikaze-like airplane crash in the Rasesa area of Gaborone in Botswana broke internationally on Sunday morning, with the Matsieng Flying Club releasing a statement about the tragedy early on Sunday afternoon.
They confirmed that at about 6.20pm on Saturday, a 2016 Beechcraft KingAir B200 aircraft A2-MBM was involved in a “ground impact incident” resulting in the death of the pilot and the destruction of infrastructure at Matsieng Aerodrome in Botswana.
“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,” according to the club’s spokesperson, Mark Mansfield.
“At about 6.15pm. the aircraft approached Matsieng Aerodrome from the direction of Sir Seretse Khama Airport and made a number of low-level fly-pasts 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 50 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.”
Mansfield said there was fortunately no serious injury to anyone in the vicinity of the accident scene.
“The emergency services of the Kgatleng District Council were on the scene within minutes to attend to the post-impact fire and distress. These response actions are to be commended. It is believed that the pilot had no permission to fly the aircraft involved.”
Below is footage of the plane moments before the crash (WARNING: All video footage below contains instances of strong language).
Chris Briers of Matsieng Botswana alleged that the Kalahari Air Services pilot committed suicide in this spectacular fashion, as he was at a party, and allegedly got drunk and into a fight with his wife. He was then asked to leave.
He allegedly then went to the capital, Gaborone, stole a KingAir 200 aircraft and flew it into the clubhouse with the intention of killing everyone there, as well as himself.
Below are photos and video sent to The Citizen of the chaotic scene.
The pilot was later certified dead at the Deborah Retief Memorial Hospital. Botswana police spokesperson Dipheko Motube reportedly confirmed the incident.
“The pilot was certified dead upon arrival at the hospital. He is said to be from South Africa. Civil Aviation is conducting the investigations to establish the cause of the crash,” Motube reportedly said.
According to Briers, no one else was injured.
The Citizen was sent a voice note, in which a man alleging to have spoken to one of the survivors and witnesses, named in the clip only as “Chris” (understood to be Briers), details what is believed to have happened.
“They had a party at Matsieng, a baby shower, and that’s one of the Kalahari Air Services pilots, and he had a fight with his wife there and he actually hit his wife, and everybody told him to f**k off because you don’t treat a woman like that.”
However, others claiming to be witnesses dispute this, saying there was no physical altercation, or even a public argument.
The pilot then left the party, which was at the Matsieng club house, and, according to the voice note, a noise was later heard and the pilot reportedly phoned a friend at the party, asking where his wife was, after which the friend advised the party guests to run and flee the club house. Then the plane crashed into it.