Former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) Treasurer-General Roy Bennett and his wife Heather have died in a helicopter crash in North America.
Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti paid tribute to the outspoken former Chimanimani legislator
“Just learnt of the tragic passing on in Canada of Heather and Roy Pachedu Badze Bennett. What a serious loss to mankind. What a blow to Charles and the rest of the family. What a blow to our struggle . I can’t believe I can’t believe I will never speak to you again Badze !” Biti wrote.
Former Education Minister David Coltart writing on Twitter said;
“I have just confirmed from three separate reliable sources that Roy and Heather Bennett have been tragically killed in a helicopter accident in North America. I am devastated- they were two of Zimbabwe’s greatest patriots. My condolences are extended to their family and friends.”
Journalist Ranga Mberi writing on Twitter said:
“I remember when I was a reporter at The Standard & called Roy Bennett. Didn’t know then that he spoke Shona. I kept asking for Mr Bennett. He kept shouting back “ndati ndivo vano VaBennett”. And I was wondering which fella is this taking me for a fool in that Manyika accent. RIP.”
MDC-T vice-president Mr Nelson Chamisa confirmed the couple’s tragic death this evening saying “I’m devastated as I have just received tragic news about Roy Bennet and wife’s involvement in a helicopter crash while in Canada.”
Journalist Innocent Chofamba Sithole also paid tribute saying;
“Sad about the tragic passing of Roy Bennett and wife. Pachedu was a man of the people. Way before politics our people kanyi in Chimanimani were devastated by Cyclone Eline. How Roy stepped up to assist the community entrenched him in the hearts of his compatriots. He will be missed!”
MDC spokesman Obert Gutu issued a statement Thursday evening saying;
“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. Roy was a resolute and committed fighter for democratic change in Zimbabwe. A founder member of the MDC, Roy was a charismatic and extremely popular grassroots mobiliser who easily connected with both senior and ordinary members of the party.
“Roy or Pachedu as he was affectionately known was a successful commercial farmer in Chimanimani. His work with the local farming communities in Chimanimani district is very well – documented and he was also a renowned philanthropist who assisted hundreds of local villagers with school fees for their children and other necessary requirements to look after their families.
“Fluent in the Shona language,Pachedu was a colourful and loving character who deeply loved both his party and his country. Pachedu’s tragic and untimely passing on is extremely painful. Heather stood by Roy through thick and thin and she will also be sadly missed.This monumental tragedy is a deep wound that will never heal.May Roy and Heather’s departed souls rest in eternal peace,” Gutu added.
As previously reported by Nehanda Radio, Bennett was one of the three white parliamentarians elected in the Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2000 despite the intimidation against MDC voters by supporters of ZANU-PF. During the election campaign, his wife who was three months pregnant, was physically abused by ZANU activists on their farm and subsequently miscarried her baby boy.
More details to follow….