Nation Engulfed in Grief

Posted by | Posted on 11 June 2012


Ministers Saitoti and Ojode perished in Sunday’s crash along with 4 others

Kenyans across the world on Sunday morning mourned the death of a cabinet minister, his assistant and four other officers who perished in a grisly air crash in Ngong Hills.

Top government officials paid a visit to the site of the crash that killed Internal Security minister George Saitoti and his assistant Joshua Orwa Ojode, two pilots, Captain Luke Oyugi and his co-pilot Nancy Gituanga and two bodyguards Inspector Joshua Tonkei and Sergeant Thomas Murimi from the Police Air wing Division. The leaders sent their message of condolence through the media.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited the crash site situated in the heart of Ngong Hills in the outskirts of the Kenyan capital expressing the loss of the two dedicated leaders.

Raila who has recently been crisscrossing the country holding a series of political rallies in a bid to woo Kenyans to vote him in as the president during the next General Elections sent message of condolence to the families of the deceased and said, he received the sad news while in a helicopter on his way to Nakuru for a rally at the historical Afraha Stadium.

The Premier said that he cancelled his scheduled rally to join Kenyans in mourning saying the tragedy has jolted the government and robbed it of committed servants and police officers.

He said it was unfortunate the accident occurred during the Fourth Anniversary after the crash that claimed lives of two Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) MPs, Kipkalya Kones and Joyce Laboso in Narok.

Former Head of State Daniel Moi hailed the late Saitoti and Ojode as champions of peace and security in the nation with his successor President Mwai Kibaki terming the two leaders as hardworking and committed civil servants who served the nation with utmost faith. Kibaki declared 3 days of national mourning in which flags will fly half mast.

Deputy Prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta also sent his message of condolence to the families of the two ministers.

In a post on his official Facebook page, Mr.Uhuru said he received the devastating news with deep shock and disbelief.

His counterpart Musalia Mudavai was among the first leaders to send their condolences to family, friends and relatives of the fallen heroes.

Musalia, who decamped ODM a fortnight ago, was also set to attend a string of political rallies in the vast Rift Valley but immediately cancelled all his engagements of the day to mourn the deceased.

“We have suspended all our political activities today to concentrate on the tragedy that has befallen my colleagues. It will not be proper to continue with this tragic development,” said Mudavadi in a statement sent to newsrooms.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka after confirming the death of the two ministers, posted in his Twitter handle saying, “I am saddened to confirm the painful news of the demise of Hon.Prof George Saitoti and Orwa Ojode in a crash that claimed four other officers.”

The cordial relationship between Saitoti and Ojode was best exemplified in Parliament where the Professor delegated critical responsibilities to his assistant.

Even in death, given their tall body frames, no one could distinguish Saitoti’s mortal remains from Ojode’s or even the others in the plane for that matter.

Until DNA results are out, they will lie at the Lee Funeral Home’s cadaver trays, and those coming to view  and pay tribute would, while walking in, have to contend with the fact they may never tell which body is George’s or Joshua’s.

The late Saitoti was professor of Mathematics and he rose to be Kenya Commercial Bank Chairman, Cabinet minister and then Kenya’s longest serving Vice President. He was 13 years older than the Ndhiwa MP.

Saitoti survived poisoning after 1990’s killing of former Foreign Minister Robert Ouko, while Ojode beat the grim reaper in a previous police helicopter accident and a road crash.

The incident occurred in Satoti’s Kajiado North Constituency which he has served for over 2 decades. They were enroute to Ojode’s Ndhiwa Constituency for a fundraiser at Nyarongi Catholic Church and also burning were the wads of Sh1000 notes the two MPs were taking for contribution.

And as even investigations get underway into the tragedy, it emerged that the aircraft was acquired by the Kenya Police, just five months ago.

Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia said the Kenya Police Air Wing had acquired the AS350 B3e for ferrying VIPs.

Preliminary investigations ruled out a terror attack as the possible cause of the chopper’s fall but reliable sources indicate it is certainly about bad weather with locals saying it was misty when the 6-seater aircraft crashed.

The chopper left Wilson Airport at about 8:20am and the pilots were informed the next destination was Kericho.


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