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High profile state officials in Kenya who died in office

On April 18, 2024, the Chief of Defense Forces, General Francis Ogolla, died in a Kenya Defense Forces helicopter crash.

The accident occurred in the afternoon in Sindar, Elgeyo Marakwet County at around 2:20pm with 11 military personnel onboard. Nine of them died on scene while two others survived.

General Ogolla’s subordinates who died in the chopper crash are Brigadier Swale Saidi, Colonel Duncan Keittany, Lieutenant Colonel David Sawe, Major George Benson Magondu, Captain Sora Mohamed, Captain Hillary Litali, Senior Sergeant John Kinyua Mureithi, Seargent Cliponce Omondi and Sergeant Rose Nyawira.

The ill-fated chopper was among three that had just left Cheptulel and was the first to take off before crash-landing minutes later.

Also read: A terrible day for Kenya! Raila Odinga mourns the loss of General Francis Ogolla

Reports have it that the military personnel had been on a peace mission in the area as well as CDF Ogolla’s inspection of renovation works in five schools in the region.

CDF Ogolla had only recently taken over power over the military in April 2023 from retired General Robert Kibochi. His death adds to a number of sudden deaths among top military and security officials in the country while they still held office.

They include:

George Saitoti – The late Saitoti died in a helicopter crash on June 10, 2012. He was 66-years-old and had been holding the office of Internal Security Minister. The Eurocopter AS-350 crashed deep inside Kibiko Forest in Ngong at around 9am, 10 minutes after taking off from Wilson Airpot located in Langata, Nairobi County.

Also read: Who is General Francis Ogolla? Quick facts about the late CDF

It was reported that it crashed and exploded on impact with the ground. A postmortem conducted found that the late Saitoti had significant levels of carbon monoxide poisoning; and days earlier, he had intimated that there were plans to assassinate him ahead of his plans to table a report on illegal drug trafficking in the country and those behind the trade.

George Orwa Ojode – He was the deputy assistant to the late Saitoti. He also died in the same helicopter crash. A report released by the Justice Kalpana Rawal commission of inquiry found that the pilots were not fully experienced in flying in the bad weather, bad weather conditions and the conditions of the helicopter’s battery could be the possible reasons as to why the chopper went down minutes after taking off. Mr Ojode died at the age of 52. The two pilots also died in the crash.

Joseph Nkaissery – On July 8, 2017, at the age of 67, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior, died at 1.45am. 45 minutes earlier, he had woken up and complained of sharp chest pains before he collapsed at his Hardy home in Karen, Nairobi County.

Prior to this, he had an overly active day with several public engagements. A six hour postmortem later confirmed he had died as a result of an acute heart attack- days after speculation that there had been foul play that could have led to his death.