NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – Cabinet Minister George Saitoti and his assistant Orwa Ojode were killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning at Kibiku forest within Ngong.
Police at the scene said the crash occurred at about 8.30am soon after the helicopter took off from the city’s Wilson Airport. Those on board were heading to Homa Bay for a church service.
They told reporters that the bodies of the two government officials and four others on board the police helicopter were charred beyond recognition.
In his message of condolences, President Mwai Kibaki said he learnt of the news with shock.
“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 bodyguards, 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 sent messages of condolences on behalf of the Government and the people of Kenya to the family, friends and relatives of the six Kenyans.
He said Saitoti would forever be remembered as a hardworking and determined public servant who dedicated his time to the service of the Kenyan people.
“Just last Friday at the Conference on Peace in Mombasa, Hon. Saitoti spoke eloquently and passionately about the many police reforms that his ministry was undertaking. He leaves behind a rich legacy of service to the country.”
“The Hon Orwa Ojode will be remembered for his focused approach while undertaking his duties with great zeal and determination as an Assistant Minister and the Member of Parliament for Ndhiwa Constituency.”
He said his prayers were with the families of pilots Luke Oyugi and Nancy Gituanja, as well as bodyguards Inspector Joshua Tonkei and Sergeant Thomas Murimi.
Among those who rushed to the scene of the helicopter crash in Kibiku forest on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital was Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka. Prime Minister Raila Odinga was expected at the scene later in the afternoon.
On his way to the scene, Odinga described the crash as a great loss.
The Prime Minister who cancelled all his engagements in Nakuru to rush to the scene said he received the news with shock and disbelief.
“It is particularly poignant and a bad coincidence that the deaths of Saitoti and Ojode have occurred on the fourth anniversary of the death of the late Minister Kipkalya Kones and the late MP for Sotik Lorna Laboso who also perished in plane crash in the same area.”
The PM, who received the news while issuing title deeds at Losibil farm in Rongai, led the gathering in a minute’s silence in honour of the departed ministers.
Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi also sent a message of condolence the families, relatives and Kenyans following the tragic crash.
The DPM said the accident was horrendous and shocking.
Following the crash, the DPM cancelled all planned political campaign engagements that would have seen him address supporters at Ziwa, Chepkoilel, Iten, Tambach, Kabarnet and Mogotio.
DPM broke the news to a shocked crowd at Kitale Bus Park on his way to Nairobi to condole with the rest of the Cabinet.