• May 27, 2024
  • Last Update May 26, 2024 7:22 PM
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Past major air accidents in Kenya’s history that claimed lives of prominent leaders

Past major air accidents in Kenya’s history that claimed lives of prominent leaders

By Patricia Mollyne Mataga

Kenya was in April 2024 plunged into mourning following a KDF helicopter accident that claimed the lives of the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) General Francis Ogolla and 10 other military officers.

The accident happened on April 18, 2024, at the Kaben area in Marakwet East Constituency, Elgeyo Marakwet County.

President William Ruto, who is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces confirmed General Ogolla’s death, hours after the accident happened.

The KDF helicopter crash adds to at least three past air accidents in the country that claimed the lives of prominent Kenyans.

We take a look at the three helicopter accidents that led to the deaths of among others cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament.

2003 plane accident that killed Ahmed Khalif

In January 2003, Ahmed Khaif, then minister for Labour died after a plane he was travelling in was involved in an accident. Khalif was with several other ministers, travelling back to Nairobi after attending a homecoming ceremony of then-Home Affairs Minister Moody Awori.

Raphael Tuju, then-Tourism Minister, Lina Kilimo (Office of the President) and Martha Karua, at the time serving as Water Minister, were in the plane at the time of the accident. They however survived.

5 MPs killed in military cargo plane crash

On April 10, 2006, another air accident happened in the country, claiming the lives of 14 people, among them 5 Members of Parliament.

The accident involved a military cargo plane that was a delegation on a peace mission. The plane crashed while attempting to land in Marsabit.

MPs killed in the accident include Bonaya Godana (North Horr), Guracha Galgalo (Moyale), Abdi Sasura (Saku), Titus Ngoyoni (Laisamis), Abdullahi Adan (EALA) and the then Internal Security Assistant Minister Mirugi Kariuki.

Kipkalya Kones, Lorna Laboso plane accident

In June 2008, then Roads minister Kipkalya Kones alongside Sotik MP Lorna Laboso died after their plane crashed in the Kojong’a area in Narok.

The aircraft, 5Y-BVE, crashed just 20 minutes after take-off from Wilson Airport.

Saitoti, Ojode helicopter accident

On June 10, 2012, a police Eurocopter AS-350 model went down deep inside Kibiko forest in Ngong.

The helicopter was not carrying just any other person, but two key individuals in the country’s security sector – Internal Security Minister George Saitoti and his assistant Orwa Ojode.

They both died in the accident.

Bruce Mackenzie die in plane accident

Bruce Mackenzie was an Agriculture minister who served during the late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s era.

He was killed in a plane accident that happened on May 24, 1978, at Ngong Hills, the same location where Saitoti died in 2012.

At the time of his death, Mackenzie was the only white person in Kenyatta’s cabinet.

It was claimed that the plane he was travelling in had a bomb attached to it, and it exploded moments after take-off. 

There were allegations that Bruce Mackenzie was killed on orders of then Ugandan President Idi Amin in retaliation for his involvement with the infamous July 1976 Entebbe rescue.

The Entebbe raid or Operation Entebbe, officially codenamed Operation Thunderbolt, was a 1976 Israeli counter-terrorist mission in Uganda. It was launched in response to the hijacking of an international civilian passenger flight operated by Air France between the cities of Tel Aviv and Paris.

There have been several other air accidents in the country involving both the security and civilian plane.

Following the KDF helicopter crash, Traspirt Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen announced the setting up of a team to investigate recent air accidents in the country.

“The investigation team shall conclude its work within three months of this appointment and a comprehensive report to the Cabinet Secretary,” read a Gazette Notice dated April 19, 2024.

The team will be led by Captain Peter Maranga.

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