Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Roy Bennett Dies in NM Helicopter Crash

Lloyd Doyle
January 19, 2018

Gutu says Bennett's wife, Heather, also died.

The crash also killed pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd, 57, of Trinidad, Colorado; co-pilot Paul Cobb, 67, of Conroe, Texas; and Charles Ryland Burnett, 61, of Houston.

"The MDC received with utter and complete shock, the news of the tragic passing on of our former national treasurer-general, Roy Bennett and his dear wife Heather in a helicopter crash in Canada on Thursday, January 18, 2018", said Mr Gutu.

The crash's only survivor was Andra Cobb, 39, who said she was able to escape before the helicopter burst into flames, according to her mother. He was known as "Pachedu", meaning "one of us" in Shona and was often called the sharpest thorn in Mr Mugabe's side.

Mr Burnett (61), meanwhile, set a world record for a steam-powered auto in 2009.

"She's just very distraught, " the mother said in a telephone interview.

"He took that job against all my wishes", said Jacqueline Dodd, who lives in Applegate, California, in the foothills northeast of Sacramento.

Officials launched a search but said the response was slow because of the rugged terrain and lack of access.

Federal Aviation Administration records show the Huey UH-1 was registered to Sapphire Aviation LLC, which records show was linked to Charles Burnett III, an investor and philanthropist.

The intended destination was the Emery Gap Ranch, a mountainous property near the Colorado-New Mexico border.

Middleton on Thursday recalled being invited to Burnett's 60th birthday party at another ranch he had helped the wealthy businessman purchase.

At the time of his death, Mr Bennett was in self-imposed exile after he skipped the country when law enforcement authorities charged him with "conspiring to acquire arms with a view to disrupting essential services".

He emerged thin and told of prisoners' mistreatment.

Bennett won a parliamentary seat in a rural constituency despite being white, angering Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party. Mr Mugabe, who had repeatedly alleged Bennett was the opposition party's contact with foreign funders, refused to swear him in.

He went into exile in South Africa almost 10 years ago after years of struggling against the government of Robert Mugabe. He also criticized his former party for allegedly enjoying the comforts of government while ordinary Zimbabweans suffered.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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