DP Ruto pilot to be buried after kin settles dispute

Debris of the ill-fated chopper scatter found in Turkana county on March, 2019. At least five people died in the crash. [Courtesy]
Deputy President William Ruto’s pilot Mario Magonga will be buried next week on Saturday.

This is after his mother and a woman who claims to be his wife agreed on the place he should be interred.

The two agreed that Magonga will be buried in Kitale, ending a four months court battle between them.

Yesterday, the pilot's mother Melania Magonga and his alleged wife Joy Mwangi signed a consent letter before High Court judge Jaqueline Kamau detailing the terms of agreement.

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Captain Mario died in a helicopter crash and his remains were taken to Lee Funeral Home on March 4 2019 after DNA tests confirmed the identity of crash victims.

His mother had declined to acknowledge Ms Mwangi as his wife. She claimed that Mwangi was only Mario's partner and that the two were not legally married.

Legally married

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Mwangi had challenged Melania's assertions saying that she and Mario were legally married and living together.

Judge Kamau had earlier heard that Mario had been married to another woman, Harriet Nekoye, who they parted with ways in 2008

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Ms Nekoye had argued that she was Mario's legitimate wife and Mwangi was a mere partner.

To counter the argument, Joy produced a divorce order from the court indicating that Mario’s marriage with Nekeyo was dissolved on February 13, 2017.

“I am the surviving widow and we have lived together as husband and wife for more than 10 years with Mario,” Mwangi said.

Mwangi added that she met Mario sometimes in 2007. She introduced him to her parents, and they started living together in 2008.

Nekeyo on the other hand produced a marriage certificate showing that she married Mario on May 2, 2001.

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She claimed that Mwangi was the sole reason she split from her husband.

“Over the years, we have kept in touch and he would let me know the challenges he was going through with Mwangi. At no time did Mario intend to marry Mwangi,” said Nekoye.

Mario's mother told the court that she recognised Nekoye as the pilot’s wife.

Mario died when the helicopter he was flying crashed near Lobolo in Central Island National Park, Turkana County.

All the four Americans he was flying also died.

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At the same time, it has been revealed that the accident was the first of its kind involving that model of helicopter.

A preliminary report by the person in charge of the investigation Fredrick Kabunge, indicated that that type of a Helicopter - Bell 505 - had never been involved in an accident anywhere in the world before.

Fit to fly

The chopper Mario was flying was owned by Kwae Investments Development Limited.

Investigations are still ongoing on what could have caused the fatal accident and a final report is expected to be released during the first quarter of 2020.

The helicopter was assembled in Kenya and was less than a year old.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority records show that at the time of the crash, Mario had undergone a medical examination, and had been declared fit to fly for six months.

“The aircraft was found to have been destroyed by fire on impact. Safety investigations are ongoing,” the report reads in part.

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Deputy President William RutoMario MagongaKitaleHelicopter CrashKenya Civil Aviation Autho