NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 26 – The family of the late Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti is now alleging interference in investigations into the helicopter crash that killed him and five others earlier this month.
The family’s lawyer Fred Ngatia said there appears to be interference in the investigation from unknown quarters because of what he termed as “unnecessary bureaucracies.”
“I don’t understand why it should take this long to carry out mapping and take away the debris from here,” he protested. “It appears there are instructions from somewhere to obstruct us from knowing the truth.”
He expressed fears that the debris which consist of material evidence at the site may end up deteriorating, if it is left at the scene for long.
“I am seeking a formal session with the team to raise these critical issues, we need to move forward,” he said, sharply differing with investigators and assessors at the crash site in Ngong where the plane debris is still lying.
He later walked away leaving assessors hired by the family and the investigators who were marking the debris to ascertain how the police helicopter crashed.
Some of the late Saitoti’s members, including his sister were at the scene and were at one time overcome by emotions as their lawyer engaged the investigators.
One of the assessors in the team Captain Peter Maranga told journalists they will start moving the debris once they are through with marking the site.
“At this stage, we are identifying various pieces where they are and making sure we have a good picture of the wreckage and that will help us understand how the aircraft actually landed,” he said, when prodded by journalists to brief them on the day’s activities.
“This wreckage is going to be removed and will be put and stored in some place securely until the investigation is complete,” he added but could not state when they will start removing it.
Last week, the probe chairperson Appellate judge Kalpana Rawal visited the site with her team members and announced that the debris will be moved to a secure place, possibly at the Moi Airbase, Eastleigh.
She had said the exercise of marking the debris was to be carried out on Friday last week for them to be moved on Saturday, but that did not happen.
Members of her team told the late Saitoti family on Tuesday that the delay in moving it from the site is partly blamed on the ministries of Defence and Transport which have failed to agree on a secure site.
The late Saitoti’s family is now worried about the cost of maintaining the two foreign assessors, in the event the delay prolongs even further because substantive investigations has not yet started, a week after the team was sworn in.
The probe team draws its membership from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the Attorney General’s office and Directorate of Public Prosecutions office.
Assessors sitting in the team include Major Gen (rtd) Harold Tangai, Maj (rtd) Charles Muyehe Wandiri, Captain Peter Maranga and Aggrey Opot.
Assisting counsels are Charles Mutinda (AG’s office) Faith Irari (AG’s office) and James Mungai Warui of the DPP’s office. Clatus Macowenga, Chief Inspector of Aircraft Accidents will serve in the technical team.
The team also comprising of French and South African aviation experts is mandated to investigate the cause of the helicopter crash that killed the late Internal Security Minister, his Assistant Orwa Ojode and four police officers.
The officers who perished in the crash include pilots Nancy Gituanja, Luke Oyugi as well as bodyguards Joshua Tonkei and Thomas Murimi.
They all perished when a police helicopter they were traveling in crashed at Kibiku area in Ngong forest as they headed to Ndhiwa for a church service and peace meeting along the troubled Borabu border.