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How Swapping Seats at the Last Minute Saved Me From Saitoti Plane Crash – Kimunya

  • National Assembly Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya has detailed how a last-minute change saved him from being involved in a helicopter crash that killed former internal security minister George Saitoti on June 10, 2012. 

    Speaking to NTV, Kimunya, who was then Minister for Transport, noted that he was slated to travel with the former internal security minister on Sunday but, Saitoti’s assistant minister, Orwa Ojode had to be added to the schedule.

    This forced Kimunya to cancel his plans at the last minute as he rescheduled to join them later in the day. 

    The late Former Vice President George Saitoti

    The late Former Vice President George Saitoti

    File

    “On the material day, we were supposed to be together at Ojode’s place for a fundraiser and then move to Kericho for some party affairs. So, when we left Mombasa, we had agreed to meet at Wilson Airport, get on the chopper together and get to Ndhiwa.” 

    “But as fate would have it, the late Ojode did not travel the previous day. So, Prof. Saitoti called me on Sunday morning to inform me that we could not travel together because he would give Ojode a lift and since the chopper can take only four people, I had to agree to give my space to Ojode,” he recounted. 

    The helicopter crash – which killed all its occupants including Saitoti, Ojode, pilot Luke Oyugi and his assistant Nancy Gituanja – is still an unresolved mystery, ten years later. 

    A reconstruction of the journey that the late ministers took from Wilson Airport revealed that the helicopter took exactly ten minutes from the time of the takeoff to the time it hit the ground in Kibiku forest. 

    What baffled police officers was that the pilots were in constant communication with the command centre at Wilson Airport for the first six minutes.

    Shortly after leaving the airspace, the chopper’s tracker showed that the helicopter turned towards Wilson Airport and started heading back before steadily heading into the ground, three minutes later. 

    There was no evidence that showed that the pilots made any efforts to control the helicopter and no alarm was raised over the state of the flight despite the communication channels being in operation.

    These gave rise to opinions that the pilots may have been long dead before the crash emerged. The Commissioner of Inquiry at the time, which was tasked with finding out the details of the incident, revealed that Saitoti’s body had high levels of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

    At the time, Saitoti was heavily touted as among the preferred successors to former President Mwai Kibaki. 

    Amos Kimunya

    Kipipiri MP Amos Kimunya addressing the press After a Jubilee PG Meeting at KICC on Monday, June 22, 2020

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