NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 10 – A sombre mood engulfed the residence of the late Internal Security Minister George Saitoti as several family friends and politicians visited to condole with the late minister’s wife, Margaret.
PM Raila Odinga accompanied by Acting Local Government Minister Fred Gumo and Public Works Minister Chris Obure were among the first senior government officials to visit the family.
Cabinet Ministers Franklin Bett, Henry Kosgey, James Orengo also arrived at the home and each took the time to remember a man whom they termed as ‘a rare quality leader who had no tribal string’.
Bett says it appears Saitoti had a premonition since he cancelled an engagement they were to have on Monday and moved it to Thursday.
Bett described Saitoti as a personal friend whom he saw rise from an academician to a senior politician.
Kosgey who had worked with the both Saitoti and Ojode; described their demise as another instance when the cruel hand of death grabs the most effective members of the society.
He said Ojode was his deputy in the Education docket in 2002.
National Heritage Minister William Ole Ntimama, Restore and Rebuild Kenya Party presidential Aspirant James ole Kiyiapi and Maasai leaders led by Martin ole Kwamaro called for a probe into the cause of the crash.
He said this will put to rest suspicions of technical failure, sabotage or professional negligence.
Ntimama, a long time perceived rival of the fallen gave a rosy account of their relationships.
He said; “We have been working together with Saitoti for a long time in our efforts to help the Maasai people into the mainstream of politics and socio-economic actives. He has been a personal friend.”
He recounted their last conversation before he went to Mombasa: “I told him he was free to campaign in Maasailand and to tell the people that I have given him my blessings to look for votes but I can’t accompany him since I am firmly in ODM.”
Ntimama has also termed the crash as a major tragedy to hit Kenya, where it lost two ministers in charge of the nation’s security. He said all angles should be investigated.
He also mourned the demise of Inspector Joshua Tonkei who he said was his constituent.
Saitoti and Ojode were heading to Oyugis where they were to attend a church service and fun-raiser.
Kiyiapi said: “It was said that the country keeps losing its gallant sons through a reckless accidents.”Kamwaro said that the deaths of the two ministers, two bodyguards and two pilots should not be taken lightly as the helicopter was acquired five months ago to ferry VIPs.
He said: “We don’t believe this is a normal accident, and should not be taken as a normal crash. The government must take thorough investigations.”
Later in the day the more guests visited the home, at one point forcing the police to deploy officers to the residence to politely ask guests to leave their vehicles outside as the compound was jammed.
Environment Minister Chirau Ali Mwakere was among those who were affected by this directive, but he obliged without a complaint for ‘a friend whose loss he is yet to quantify.’
Mwakwere recounted how Saitoti was the first person to back his campaign during the Matuga by-election. He termed the tragedy as painful.
Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet Minister Moses Wetangula arrive were among those who stopped by Saitoti’s Lavington home to condole with the family.
Similarly, a sombre mood engulfed the Runda home of former Assistant Minister Joshua Orwa Ojode following news of his death on Sunday morning.
His family was joined by friends and family who learnt of the death through media reports.
Emotions ran high as many of those who arrived struggled to cope with the news of his sudden death.
Members of the family said that they first learnt of the demise of the two through the media and had no information of the accident.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga accompanied by MPs Fred Gumo, Shakeel Shabir was the first top government official to arrive at the Ojode home.
Raila announced that there would be an urgent Cabinet meeting to discuss the matter.
Others who visited the home of the late assistant minister were Medical services minister Anyang Nyong’o, former advisor to the PM Miguna Miguna and former Anti Corruption head PLO Lumumba.
(Laban Wanambisi contributed to this report)