A HELICOPTER crash in the middle of the Selous Game Reserve on Thursday evening claimed yet another life of a Parliamentary candidate in next week’s general election, maverick Mr Deo Filikunjombe and three others on board.
Police have confirmed that the accident has occurred and that there were four people on board the helicopter but only two have thus far been identified, one of them being the pilot, Captain William Silaa. Capt Silaa is also the father of the outgoing Mayor of Ilala Municipality, Mr Jerry Silaa.
According to the Police Commissioner for Operations, Mr Paul Chagonja, police are yet to establish the cause of the accident and who actually owns the helicopter.
Mr Filikunjombe becomes the sixth parliamentary aspirant and the third from Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in a list that seems to escalate since election campaigns started in August.
Early in the week the Minister for Industry and Trade, the late Dr Abdallah Kigoda who was also a candidate for Handeni constituency in Tanga died whilst undergoing medical treatment in India.
Late last month (September 24) a Minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management), Ms Celina Kombani, who was vying for the Ulanga East seat also died in India where she was undergoing treatment.
On September 13 this year, Mr Mohammed Mtoi who was vying for the Lushoto constituency on Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) ticket died in a car accident.
Other aspirants who have since passed on are Masasi parliamentary candidate Dr Emmanuel Makaidi of National League for Democracy (NLD) who died on October 15 from stroke and the Arusha Urban candidate Mr Estomiah Malla of ACT-Wazalendo who died on October 9.
A fortnight ago, outspoken politician and National Chairman of the Democratic Party (DP), Rev Christopher Mtikila died in a car crash at Msolwa village in Chalinze while travelling from Morogoro to Dar es Salaam.
Following news of the crash and confirmation of the deaths of Mr Filikunjombe and others, Jerry Silaa posted on Instagram: “With great sadness I have received official confirmation from the search and rescue team that they have managed to reach the site of the crash and all those on board the helicopter, including the pilot have died.
“I have lost a father and the country has lost a pilot, Capt William Silaa. I have lost a friend and a leader Deo Filikunjombe. I send my condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones and I pray all the deceased rest in peace. “I thank all those who partook in the rescue efforts. I thank President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, IGP Mangu, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Dr Meru, Everest Company and all those involved in search of the crash victims.
Mr January Makamba tweeted: “Kombani, Kigoda, Mallah, Deo, Mtoi, Makaidi. We started campaigns together. Today they are no longer with us. God keep them with Saints in Heaven. Give their families strength. “Two days ago I had a lengthy conversation with Deo about strategies. I have lost a friend and brother. God bless him and my condolences to the families of the bereaved. I have just received confirmation that the chopper he had hired has crashed and all on board have perished.”
Mr Zitto Kabwe posted on his Tweeter page: “I have lost a friend. I have lost a brother. I have lost a person more diligent than any other. I don’t have much to say. God has His plans. “Our brother, our friend and fellow patriot Deo Filikunjombe has left us following a helicopter accident. I pray we stay calm in these difficult times.”
Mr Filikunjombe was the Ludewa Member of Parliament from 2010 till his death and had graduated with a Masters Degree in Mass Communication at the Makerere University of Kampala in 1999.
He had worked as a communications manager for various organisations and also as a freelancer, columnist and photographer for various media houses prior to entering politics.