NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 18 – Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere has downplayed fears over the maintenance of the Kenya Police Airwing aircraft and the competence of their pilots.
Iteere told a requiem mass for the four police officers killed in a police chopper crash a week ago that their helicopters are not only well serviced but also handled by competent pilots.
“Look at Kenya Airways, over 80 percent of those pilots were ex-Kenya Police pilots. Go to Wilson Airport most of them are either from the military, Kenya Air Force or Kenya Police. The competence is there within the military, the Kenya Air Force or the Kenya Police,” Iteere said of the Airwing which was established in 1949.
He said both Captain Nancy Gituanja and Captain Luke Oyugi had over 1,000 flight hours which shows they were well qualified to fly.
“There has been a lot of talk from various quarters, that the aircrafts at the Kenya Police Service Airwing are not well maintained; that they are old; that the pilots some of them were doubting their qualifications and competences. I wanted to ally those fears because we are satisfied with the type of training we give those officers,” he said.
He said he knew the officers individually as he had worked with them during his tenure as an Instructor at the GSU training college and as the Head of the Presidential Escort Unit.
The Police Commissioner said that the two pilots were among officers who had trained in Ukraine on how to fly Mi-17 Helicopter which the police has been using for the last 15 years.
He termed the June 10 crash as ‘bad luck’ and appealed for restraint as investigations are conducted.
Iteere was addressing hundreds of well wishers, top government officials, members of the public and police officers who joined families of the four officers who perished in the crash for a requiem mass at the Holy Family Basilica.
The bodies of the late Captain Nancy Gituanja, Captain Luke Oyugi, Inspector Joshua Tonkei and Sergeant Thomas Murimi were carried by pall bearers wearing ceremonial police uniforms into the Church.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka announced that Cabinet Ministers James Orengo, Esther Murugi, Jamleck Kamau, William Ole Ntimama and Wilfred Machage will represent President Kibaki at the burials of the fallen officers in their rural homes to be held this week.
Orengo will be at the burial of the late Luke Oyugi on Thursday, Esther Murugi, Jamleck Kamau and Kabando wa Kabando will be in Kandara, Muranga on Tuesday for the burial of late Nancy Gituanja.
William Ole Ntimama will represent the government at the burial of the late Joshua Tonkei on Wednesday while Assistant Minister Wilfred Machage will attend the burial of the late Thomas Murimi in Kuria on Tuesday.