Zimbabwe opposition chief dies in U.S. helicopter crash

22 January, 2018, 01:37 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Charles Burnett was hosting a party travelling to New Mexico when their helicopter crashed

He was in a long-term relationship with Andra Cobb, the only survivor of the crash and daughter of Paul Cobb, who was the co-pilot of the helicopter, AP reported.

Fire department and law enforcement vehicles responded to the area, but response was slow due to the area being extremely remote with rugged terrain and limited road access.

Authorities in the US state of New Mexico say key Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett has been killed in a helicopter crash.

Charles Burnett III, 61, a nephew of the late Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, was flying to his new ranch in northern New Mexico on Wednesday night with his friend Roy Bennett, 60, who had been a leading opponent of Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe. He was known as "Pachedu, ' meaning 'one of us" in Shona and was often called the sharpest thorn in Mugabe's side.

The group of friends, including a Zimbabwean opposition leader, were travelling to a ranch in the USA state when their helicopter crashed in a remote area.

Obert Gutu, spokesperson for the MDC-T party, described Bennett's death as a "huge and tragic loss".

"The MDC and the Zimbabwean community owe their gratitude to comrades such as Bennett whose vast contribution to the struggle against injustice, human rights violations and oppression can not go unsung".

Zimbabwe opposition chief dies in U.S. helicopter crash
Zimbabwe opposition chief dies in U.S. helicopter crash

He continued by consoling the Bennett family, "I am very sorry don't know who to offer my condolences to, perhaps to the whole of Zimbabwe".

Born in England, Burnett was an investor and philanthropist with links to a wide range of businesses and a love of entertaining friends extravagantly.

This was because his British-built steam supercar reached an average speed of 139.8mph on two runs over a measured mile at the Edwards Air Force Base in California, beating a record that had stood for more than 100 years. Both Dodd and Cobb were experienced aviators who would not have taken unnecessary risks in the helicopter, Hill said.

The former Marine corporal was flying over the mountains, about 15 miles east of the small city of Raton, near the Colorado state line, at around 6pm when the helicopter went down. Engulfed in flames, the wreckage of the helicopter registered to an aviation company linked to Burnett was spotted on a ranch. Burnett bought it in February 2017, said Sam Middleton, a real estate broker in Lubbock, Texas, who helped with the purchase.

According to the reports, in Zimbabwe, Tendai Biti, a prominent opposition leader and a former finance minister, tweeted that the Bennett's "tragic passing" was "a blow to our struggle".

Bennett later set to become the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Zimbabwe until Mugabe refused to swear him in.



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