Kenya cabinet minister among 7 dead in helicopter crash
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka who arrived at the scene with Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere confirmed that the two ministers died in the crash along with Prof Saitoti’s two bodyguards and two pilots.
“Its unbelievable and painful to Kenya and I send my condolences to President Kibaki, families and friends of Prof Saitoti and Orwa Ojode,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Mwai Kibaki has also sent a message of condolences to the families and friends of Prof Saitoti and Orwa Ojode.
“It is with great sadness that this morning I learnt of the tragic deaths of the Minister for Internal Security and Provincial Administration Prof
George Saitoti and the Assistant Minister in the ministry Hon Orwa Ojode, their body guards and the pilot and co-pilot of the police helicopter that they were travelling in. The deaths of the six Kenyans is a devastating loss to our country,” he said.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Kenya I send my heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and relatives of the six Kenyans.
Minister Saitoti will forever be remembered as a hardworking and determined public servant who dedicated his time to the service of the
Kenyan people,” he said.
He added: “At this moment of great national grief my prayers are with the families of those who perished.”
Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday cancelled all his engagements in Nakuru and rushed to the scene of the plane crash.
“Investigations will be conducted to establish the cause of the crash and the Cabinet will determine the number of days for mourning,” he said at the scene of the accident.
“It is a bad coincidence that the deaths of Prof Saitoti and Mr Ojode have occurred on the fourth anniversary of the deaths of the late Minister Kipkalia Kones and the late MP for Sotik Lorna Laboso who also perished in plane crash,” he said.
The bodies of the deceased have been taken to Lee Funeral for post-mortem.
Others who perished included Pilots Luke Oyugi and Nancy Gituanja together with two bodyguards Joshua Tonkei and Thomas Murimi
The two were heading to Orwa Ojode’s Ndhiwa Constituency for a church fundraising activity.
It is exactly four years when a chopper carrying MPs Kipkalya Kones and Lorna Laboso crashed in Narok.
According to an eye witness, the helicopter was seen diving from the sky and full of smoke before crushing and exploding into flames.
“The Chopper was filled with smoke before it crashed. I heard two explosions as it went up in flames,” said Rose Kwamboka.
Another eye witness Leonard Njoroge said he saw the chopper sway one kilometre away from his homestead before it crashed between 8am and 8:30am.
“The chopper crashed and exploded on impact scattering money and books and only its tail seemed intact,” he said. The plane destroyed trees as it missed my homestead.”
He added, “My family and I rushed to extinguish the fire but it was too late because the fire burnt everyone on board beyond recognition.”
Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said that the country has lost very dedicated government officials who have done a lot for security in the country.
He added that Prof Saitoti will also be remembered for the establishment of free primary education when he served in the education ministry.
“The two have done a lot to ensure that the security of this country is enhanced and all Kenyans feel safe,” said Mr Murungi.
He added that Prof Saitoti had done Kenya a great favour when he chose not to run for presidency in 2007 and supported President Kibaki.
Moyale MP Mahmud Mohammed also visited the late Prof Saitoti’s home to condole the family.
The MP said that the news was tragic and a shock to the entire nation.
“I have seen his wife and other relatives and we send our condolences to his family and the entire nation. This tragedy also shows that we need to evaluate the state of our air travel as a nation,” Mr Mohammed said.
Susan Sangale, a neighbour to Prof Saitoti said that it was shocking to find out about the minister’s death.
She added that she learnt about the tragic news from the journalists who were at Prof Saitoti’s home.
“I have not interacted with him much but I can describe him as a very humble man,” she said.
Deputy Prime Minister Mr Mudavadi has cancelled all planned political campaign engagements that would have seen him address supporters at Ziwa, Chepkoilel, Iten, Tabach, Kabarnet and Mogotio.
Mudavadi termed the two as “nationalist and devoted public servants who have lend great service to Kenyans.”
On twitter Gichugu MP Martha Karua said “I mourn my colleagues Hon Saitoti and Hon Ojode and four others my condolences and prayers to their families.”
“It is with great shock that I received news of the early morning accident that claimed the lives of Hon Prof George Saitoti and Hon Orwa Ojode,” said Planning Assistant Minister Peter Kenneth.
Also, Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa tweeted “Its shocking, tragic and hard to believe the loss Prof and Hon Ojode. We have lost brave statesmen. Pole to the family and friends.”
National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende said “I have learnt with disbelief and a lot of sorrow the untimely demise of Prof George Saitoti, Hon Orwa Ojode, their bodyguards and their crew in the tragic plane crash this (Sunday) morning. On my own behalf and that of MPs and staff I condole with their respective families, friends, and all Kenyans during this trying time. I had an opportunity to interact with the two leaders in the past 3 days during the peace conference in Mombasa and they were in the best of spirit to ensure the country was peaceful.”
“The passing of Hon Saitoti and Hon Ojode is a great loss to Kenya. My heartfelt prayers are with their families, friends and constituents,” said Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta on twitter.