How Saitoti,Ojode died in the Chopper crash

Tragic:The scene of the helicopter crash at Kibiku in Ngong Photo Joseph Kariuki

When I got a text from  a friend saying “Four perish in a plane crash in Ngong” I did not take it that seriously.It was about 9:30am. I thought its just the usual false alert we get in the newsroom. But to be certain I went straight to Twitter, a new source of breaking news for journalist.

And there it was Kenya Red Cross had tweeted that a police helicopter had crashed and killed all the six on board and not four as earlier reported. News started sifting in and it emerged that among the six was Internal Security minister Pro George Saitoti. My first instinct was to call my good friend Peterson Githaiga, Saitoti’s personal photographer. He picked the call but I could tell from his voice that he was in a state of shock, he confirmed that indeed waziri(minister) was in that police helicopter that crashed.

Being a Sunday,and a slow one at that, I decided to go and check it out. In the newsroom we say it better to go and bounce an invent than ignore it. Getting transport was a hurdle because all our drivers were off duty and the only available vehicle was taking a TV crew to cover Raila Odinga’s rally in Nakuru.

After bargaining with our head driver for sometime,all this while seething with anger because as a photojournalist I knew we were wasting valuable picture time ,we got a driver. And off to Kibiku forest in Ngong.

The journey to Ngong was fast and the driver advised us to use our safety belts,we were doing about 120-130kms/hour. On the way several police vans passed us with sirens in full blast. My worst fear was confirmed;indeed the ministers must have died.

Ngong town was in a sombre mood,they had lost their member of parliament,Saitoti, who was also a presidential candidate. We proceeded to Kibiku the scene of the crash. And on our way there we were stopped by police and the jam made by vehicles that had formed a long queue of about 7kms. Camera in hand I decided to run all the way to the crash scene,fighting the mass of people.

Shocked residents react at scene of crash Photo/Joseph Kariuki

After sweating it out I finally reached the crash scene or so I thought. But it was the first barrier to the scene. Being the Internal Security minister and his assistant Orwa Ojode security was hyper high. I sneaked in just in time to capture the photo of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka leaving the scene. But my eyes were more focused on the crash scene itself,I didn’t wait for Kalonzo’s speech.

When I arrived at the scene which was covered by thick thickets I could not see the crash site and police had totally cordoned the whole area. They were adamant that press time for taking photos was up. They even advised me to borrow photos from my friends which I objected to. But I charmed them for a whole 20mins my finger ready on the camera. When I realised I was not making headway I decided to sneak through the thickets and get a photo.

By then there was no crowd at the scene ,only senior crime scene officers were busy combing the area for clues. As I moved through the bushes without any warning the gory image of assistant minister Orwa Ojode met me. He was burnt out with one hand lifted as if asking for help. I recognised him because of the unique head features. The intensity of the crash finally dawned on me.

A few metres away the horror of the crash was there for me to capture. I froze momentarily before composing the photos and clicking away. The area was totally burnt out and the new police helicopters which was only six months old had been reduced to a heap of metallic rubble.

Four bodies remained at the actual point of crash burnt beyond recognition,one still strapped to a seat. There is no way one could tell who the victims were. Only the tail of the chopper remained intact with its registration number AS350 B3e with Kenya’s flag and the blue and white police colors being the only clue that it was a police chopper.

Flesh was strewn all over the place. Saitoti’s trade mark grey checked jacket burnt with a piece remaining being the only sign then showing the horror of his death. A police officer eager  to show me the scene pulled me aside and showed me where the mathematics professor died.

Saitoti was lying about 10m from the actual crash point his naked belly facing up. His face could not be seen because it was covered by tall grass but his legs had been cut at the thigh. One of his hand was missing. It looked like he tried to run from the scene of the crash but without his two legs it was difficult to tell how.

I took the photos though I knew I would never use in my newspaper because of ethical standards.

Police stand guard at the scene of the helicopter crash at Kibiku forest in Ngong

The positions the two minister were only meant that their body guards tried to save the two. Saitoti unburnt body was a clear sign that his assistants tried to take him to safety but unfortunately he could not make it.

A few metres from where his body lay there was a bundle of notes some burnt but others still intact. Saitoti and Ojode were going for a church fund raising at the later Ndhiwa constituency.

In a short while the Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited the scene and paid his tribute to the ministers who he said were close to him.

Saitoti joins the growing list of Kibaki’s ministers that have perished in plane crashes since he took the presidency in 2002. The First was Ahmed Khalif(2003),Mirugi Kariuki,Titus Ngoyoni(2006) two years later Kipkalya Kones,Lorna Laboso(2008) perished in a chopper.

After the scene of crime officers were done with the work the Kenya Red Cross personnel were at hand to collect the bodies that were taken to Lee Funeral home.


About Kenya Reporter

The other side of the news.

Posted on June 11, 2012, in General News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 95 Comments.

  1. Hey Joseph, this is really sad! I learnt of this news through twitter and i could not stop searching for details. May the souls of the deaceased rest in peace and may the good Lord comfort their families and friends.

    Thank you too for giving us a rough picture of the scene.

  2. So sad ineed..watched the breaking news from citizen tv back home in uganda bt couldn’t belive it.may there souls R.I.P.

  3. great article bro….sad for the nation………

  4. Thanks for the touching narrative Joseph

  5. That’s a sad story. Horror.. That aside I must say that this is a well written story.. wish it could be replicated in the newspaper. Pole pole pole.

  6. What I moving story! Ndugu Joseph, you have taken me to the scene despite the fact that I am thousand kilometers from that place. Sad indeed, May the good Lord rest their souls in enternal peace.

  7. Thank you

  8. Thanks for sharing

  9. thanks for those scene details that were not mentioned in the media,it looks like the impact was horrible but i ask one question,were those guys really burnt beyond recognition or they had body parts that were possible to identify coz we saw body bags that looked full?

  10. may the almighty God Rest their soul in enternal pce

  11. Hi Joseph, u av answered some queries that were burning in ma mind. I can clearly understand the scene after reading your article.

  12. Sad story..Really sad.

    What is it with Air crashes these days? We were just getting over the Nigerian disaster and this happens? Absolutely tragic.

    However i didnt quite understand when you say “Four charred bodies remained intact burnt beyond recognition” and then you go ahead and say “Saitoti was lying about 10m from the actual crash point his naked belly facing up. His face could not be seen but his legs had been cut at the thigh” implying you recognised one of the four.

    • Eddie there were six people in the chopper,the two body guards and the two pilots are the four that were burnt beyond recognition. But Saitoti and Ojode were a few metres away. As always thanks for seeing what is not clear.

  13. tr Ojuang George

    hey Joe, so sad but thanx UV painted the pix in words, keep up the grt art!

  14. i too saw his half body (have known it was him after joe’s description) on was so horrorful that the lady anchor exclaimed, ”oh! my God”.i dont think such images should be shown (even shortly) in the future.

    • It was horrific some journalists were stressed,unfortunately people will never appreciate the what they go through to bring the news,sometimes the 99% good is forgotten by 1% bad.

  15. i like the picturesques explanation and yes its so sad that he had to die such a painfull death and the bodyguards…mhhh poleni sana they had to die trying to save anothe rlife while risking their own. good work karizmwangi

  16. You can’t cheat death can you now??
    And in any case the family members are the only ones who know what it is to lose a loved one…the rest of us just feel sorry for them.

    Anyway…nice piece joseph…now that’s what I call 3D.. #peace

  17. tragic, but interesting read…must have been traumatizing

  18. The story gives the real picture of exactly what transpired leaving the ready contented with the informtion as though he (the reader) was exactly at the scene of the crash!!!

  19. Hi.Joe thanx for the narrative,it gives me a picture of the incident.This occured while am in Kampala.I didnt manage to capture anything aired by the media but Iv goten sm insight.Kindly Mail me the photos God grant their families strength at this most painful moment.

  20. A good description, having followed the Professor from my early age, I have not stopped to read the circumstances of his and others death.The story clearly paints the picture.Please send me the pictures on

  21. good job.the way u tel the story z jst brilliant.kindly send me the photos at

  22. May the Almighty God rest there souls in eternal PEACE!!

    Kariz this was very brave of you,,keep up

  23. Some of you have asked to be sent photos of the scene but I regret it is not possible,I dont want the photos being posted online imagine if lets say Saitoti’s wife stumble on them? or the other relatives?

  24. good narrative. kindly email me the images at

  25. good read!my mind was suspended eerily in camera like motion by the way u narratively described the scene!the pics u mentioned im sure r so horrific,saw a glimpse on K24 TV,even the lady anchor had to hide face with her notes to avoid looking at the horror on the raw footage as she went “Oh my God”!!.i think she even cried off air.

  26. Thanks fellow Kenyans, good narrative. kindly email me the images at

  27. Thanks for the story…not stuff that one wants to hear but sometimes one needs to hear the truth. I knew Hon. George Saitoti when he worked with my late Dad (Prof. Alala) at the University of Nairobi. I was very young then and when I met him later on he still remembered me. Very pleasant person to know. May he rest in peace

  28. sad story man…but you shoud have posted the pictures here…

  29. Thax Joseph..plz send me te photos

  30. I know ethics does not allow you to publish the photos, but can you please send me the pics in

  31. please send me the photos at

  32. The journalist ought to be commended.kindly send me the pics,

  33. Great stuff. what a pity most of our other writers didn’t caputure on the day. I recall that was not for writer Caleb Atemi’s description of the scene where Ouko’s body was found, the govt’s big lie that the minister had committed suicide would still be with us today.

  34. Please send me the photos at

  35. Oh my God!may the good lord rest their soul in peace,pliz send me the photo in my email address

  36. We must get those did it this time because it has become a habit in this country to have unsolved murders thanks for your cover message

  37. Joseph,i am gutted about this! You took me to the site quite well just on my arm chair! God bless the works of your hands.Please send me some photos if you can on

  38. that wz a very vivid description Joseph, pole 4 their families and may their souls rest in eternal peace.

  39. Lynett onyango.

    Thanks Joseph for this insightful piece. The narrative that you have given speaks for itself. Im indeed touched by your story and would like to thank you for this article.
    However, i would like to get a clarification on an issue here- who could the body guards be in a position to help them out yet their bodies remained in the plane? I cant imagine beyond this.
    Thanks again joseph. Be blessed.

  40. brillant insight Joseph, plz send me the photos @ plz

  41. this was so sad, still cant cant accept that Saitoti is really dead, its as a sad reality

  42. Valentine Mangwana

    Joseph Kariuki, thank you for taking me to the scene….so touching! The descriptions….. well done.

  43. how i wish 2see the scene life to confirm coz i stil dnt beliv that saitoti is gone.

  44. Very sad indeed! Kindly send me the photos @

  45. Thnx. Very nice narrative. Kindly send me the photos on I promise they wont leave my laptop.

  46. A great write up.may the 6 great kenyans RIP. Could you please share with me the fotos thru

  47. very sad indeed…. can you please send me the pictures at

  48. The Saitoti/Ojode photo is already online. Here’s the link. Saitoti is the one closer to the camera.

  49. So sad!may Gd see and bless dea families in this trying waheshimiwa

  50. Joseph…thank you for taking us where we couldn’t go…really, thank you. We could only imagine but at least we now know a little bit more of what may have transpired. May the good Lord rest the departed souls in peace.

  51. Reblogged this on Timeoutmagkenya’s Weblog and commented:
    When i posted the Choppers Crash on Twitter @KenyaRedCross at 8:51am, i went on with Live updates of at Mlolongo Building Collapse, an hour later i received loads of calls to confirm the occupants…..RIP Champs

  52. On the fateful day I received news of the crash through twitter @KenyaRedCross through an #iVolunteer who posted to alert RedCross, i Got intouch with him to verify the incident before I could inform RedCross Emergency Operations Centre to dispatch @EMS_Kenya Ambulance and Disaster response teams. The #iVolunteer confirmed to me there no need to send the ambulance as the occupants of the Chopper were burnt beyond recognition.
    So as at 8:51 i posted “FLASH Plane crash at Kibiko A near Forest Lane in Ngong Town, Four burnt Beyond recognition. @EMS_Kenya Stand down” on the Red Cross twitter feed which i manage.
    I went on with search and rescue updates from Mlolongo Building collapse when i came back online the tweet had got 503 Retweets i got loads tweets , calls and texts to confirm the occupants.
    The RedCross Emergency Operations Centre was jammed with calls from Media to confirm the incident.
    When i finally got the sad news i shaken could not speak, that one tweet i posted Broke the News of the Chopper Crash……..Working at Kenya Red Cross is not work anymore but a calling

  53. May they rest in peace. All this is way too hard to believe. RIP.
    Could you kindly send me the photos to my email

  54. 1)were saitoti’s legs and hand found? 2) did saitoti sustain any burns? 3)what happened to plane remains? 4) what do you think was moving these bodies that distance from the scene? 5) apart from money, is there any other item that was recovered from the scene? and what happened to the recovered money?

  55. Thanks joseph for the descriptive coverage, send me the photos on Have a lovely week and May God rest the souls of these dedicated Kenyans in eternal peace.

  56. nkatha jedidah

    may he rest in peace.

  57. Its too sad indeed……. thanks for sharing the story. What a painful death.

  58. Thats a really touching story. Excellent journalism there. Could you please send me the photos to if possible?

  59. Sad story!! Thnxs Karis for sharing this story, we join join the nation too in mourning tihis great leaders. may their soul rest in peace…

  60. Hey just a question, so if Saitoti’s bodyguards tried to help him after the crash, it means they were okay after impact then were burnt after trrying to rescue waziri?

  61. too sad ……am a relative of one of the victim and missed out on what happen.. at least now I have a clearer picture.

  62. Touching story well written. Please send me the pics on

  63. Hi joseph it is sad may God rest them in peace.Joseph u are courageous .

  64. Now that things are somehow settled, please send the pics so that the arguments at our watering holes are from an informed angle.

  65. Hi Joseph please send me the pics on

  66. Hi Joseph, maybe the only photos you have are the ones seen here and you were never there, you relied on friends for the pics and info.

  67. Thats a far fetched allegation Chukni1

  68. Otieno Caspa Apiyo

    It waz a sad moment but lyf has
    to go on as investigations are under way.brothers and sisters.

  69. It was so sad to the nation,relatives,friends and all.

  70. An accident thats what i heard would you have some more info as to what really happened and why?

  71. I am so sorry, your family and close friends are in my prayers,

    USA…..St. James//Anglican

  1. Pingback: Mysterious Unresolved Death Of Jacob Juma And 10 Other Prominent Kenyans - KenyaWest

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