CO Solomon M. Kotane, and Photos by WO2 Christo Crous, DCSS
The Commander of the Botswana Air Arm visited the SAAF over
the period 7 – 11 Apr 08.
CAF repeated the call for regional co-operation and joint
strategic leadership in matters affecting air space.
Furthermore, he lamented the loss of skilled personnel to
the private sector, specifically aviation industries. He
pointed out that countries currently taking up pilots from
the military were mainly the Middle East, India, China,
Malaysia and Australia.
Lt Gen Gagiano noted that the momentum for regional links
already existed, but he hoped that it would be maintained.
However, it became obvious during the talks, that Botswana
had similar problems as South Africa.
CAF was addressing a five-person Botswana military
delegation during a bi-lateral meeting held at the Air Force
Headquarters on 7 April 2007. The key objective of the
meeting was to explore chances for joint multinational
deployments and training, connectivity, interoperability and
Maj Gen Jefferson Gobuamang Tlhokwane (Air Arm Commander)
led the Botswana group. Other members of his delegation
included: Col Domcaza Kengaletswe Mokgwathi (Director
Aviation Engineering), Col Therego Seretse (Defence
Attaché), Lt Col Edmond Ketumile Thamage (Botswana Air Arm
21 Squadron Commander - Helicopters) and Capt Onteboge
Maj Gen Tlhokwane pointed out that Zimbabwe has trained many
troops from the SADC countries. And, at the moment,
paratroopers from Zambia are being trained in Botswana.
Botswana, with a population of about 1,8 million people, has
a total defence strength of approximately 2 000 troops.
The SAAF delegation, led by Lt Gen Gagiano, included Brig
Gen Tsoku Khumalo (Director Air Transport and Maritime
System Group, also Accompanying Officer), Brig Gen Hugh
Paine (Director Air Capability and Plans) and Capt Lebo
Mathekga (Liaison Officer).
Brig Gen Paine provided a brief but clear overview of the
SAAF structure and explained the challenges facing the SAAF
at the moment. He complained that the defence industries
were cutting down on their sizes and consolidating their
Brig Gen Paine also said that the strategic challenges and
operations have changed and this has led to altered
approaches to training and the terrain philosophy. He
emphasized that training was now outward-looking in
character. It was, he noted, done in arid areas to prepare
crews for peacekeeping missions in the rest of Africa.
Talking about the maladies affecting personnel in the SAAF,
he asked how the Botswana Air Arm treated its crew who had
become HIV positive? Maj Gen Tlhokwane said, “In the army we
don’t know a lot about the disease, but we depend on the
advice of medical persons”. He added that: “any person who
contracted the disease, would be treated as if he had any
other medical condition”.
“We do not have a coherent policy on this matter,” he
regretted. However, “If you fly a military aircraft it could
be different from flying a civil airline, where you would
virtually be sitting in a flying office, whereas a military
aircraft you would be expected to make challenging
manueuvres”. This kind of swift movements, he reckoned,
might pose serious problems for an HIV positive person.
Maj Gen Tlhokwane was born in Kang, Botswana. He finished a
BSc Part 1 at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and
Swaziland in 1974. And, in 1977 he completed a Bachelor of
Engineering at Ahmadu Bello University, in Nigeria.
The following year, he finished the Air Service Training (CAA
Aircraft Maintenance Engineer’s Lisence, A & C) in Perth,
Australia, and in 1985 he received a Certificate in
Personnel Management (IDM). In 2001 he passed a Postgraduate
Diploma in Management Studies in Buckinghamshire Chilterns
University College in England.
In 1995 he distinguished himself as a student at the Air War
College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama in the United
States of America (USA). Moreover, he attended senior
courses in Dakar, Senegal and South Africa. He was promoted
to a Maj Gen in 2002.
During his career, he received the following medals: Duty
Code Order (1992), United Nations Peacekeeping Medal (1993,
UNOMOZ), Distinguished Service Medal (1998, DSM), Grand
Knight Medal (2004, GKM) and was inducted to the
International Roll of US Air University in 2007.
Maj Gen Tlhokwane has been appointed to many senior
positions both in Botswana and internationally, including
Chief Liaison Officer for the United Nations Operations in
Mozambique. Additionally, he had been assigned as head of
the Southern African Defence Council’s Advisory Team in
Maseru in Lesotho.