Botswana Defence Force soldiers whose houses and personal belongings burnt to ashes on Monday at Sir Seretse Khama Barracks (SSKB) slept in tents and camp offices that night, The Midweek Sun has learned.

Colonel Magosi Moshagane of BDF announced through a press release on Monday night that the 100-man barracks at Sir SSKB were gutted by fire around 1720hrs. The personal belongings of the occupants are said to be destroyed. They currently have nothing, save for the clothes they were wearing when the fire started.

“They slept in offices and tents, about 40 houses burnt to the ground. It is not yet known for a fact what caused the fire but suspicion is that it was an electric fault,” a m

ember of the BDF based at SSKB said.

He said when the fire started at House No. 1, the owner was away on a work trip. “The owner is currently in Lobatse, the fire started from his house and eventually spread to other houses.”

When reached on Tuesday morning, BDF’s Colonel Fana Maswabi was unable to tell what relief measures will be provided to the affected soldiers. A questionnaire sent to their office had not been answered at press time.

However, soldiers shared that when such incidents happen, the BDF hardly assists the affected financially. The affected have to start all over again. “Willing communities can make donations because as it stands, they will be buying everything from scratch. It has never happened that we see the BDF go out of its way to financially assist anyone,” they said.

They added that in some cases, soldiers donate what they are able to offer. Some contribute money so that the victims can buy household items. Monday’s fire incident at SSKB is the third case affecting BDF within a space of one year.

On the 8th of September 2021 just after midnight, a fire gutted a 25-men barracks block at Maun Base Camp resulting in the loss of life of a BDF member.

On the 11th of September 2021, a fire partly burnt a block of flats at BDF’s No.2 Garrison in Francistown.

It is alleged by some members of the BDF that another fire incident happened at Glen Valley BDF camp in Sebele about two to three years back.

“We are worried with all these fire incidents, right now only the Phikwe camp has not burnt down. All others have a fire history. It does not help that BDF recruits thousands every year while there is a serious shortage of accommodation,” the soldiers said.