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Kakamega stampede: School bans church meetings amid probe



Kakamega Primary School, where 15 children died following a stampede on February 3, has stopped nine churches from conducting Sunday services there.

Police directed the school’s board of management to stop the services amid pressure by local leaders for the decision to be taken.

During prayers and a cleansing ceremony at the school on Monday, a handwritten notice stated that the school was out of bounds for churches.

A day after the incident, former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale asked the Ministry of Education to stop churches from conducting prayers at the institution.

This sparked fury, with clerics demanding an apology clerics, saying the politician linked the incident to religious groups.

Head teacher Dickson Wanyangu said on Thursday that details on the decision and the churches affected were kept private but that meetings with their heads would be held and the move explained.

“This is a decision made by board of management. No church will be allowed in the compound,” he said.

At the burial of one of the victims, he added, The situation has remained disturbing but we leave everything in the hands of God.”

The Nation established that the religious groups were not paying any levies to the school for use of the premises.

READ ALSO:   Gone too soon: Parents speak of dashed hopes

So far, police have taken the statements of 16 teachers as part of investigations into the tragedy, amid calls for a quicker process.

Western Region Criminal Investigations Officer Shem Nyamboki said detectives were planning to record statements from pupils and other witnesses.

The recording of pupils’ statements was put off on Thursday to allow counselling by a county team and St John Ambulance personnel.

Learning has resumed, with 3,038 primary pupils and 184 in the ECDE section returning to school following its reopening on Monday.

But Mr Wanyangu said some of the pupils, especially those in Standard Four and Five, and some teachers were yet to comes to terms with the tragedy.

The detectives will forward the investigations file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for perusal, who will recommend action based on evidence gathered.

There is the possibility that the DPP will recommend a public inquest before a magistrate.

Should this be the case, the magistrate will determine the next course of action, based on the findings from testimonies.

Mr Nyamboki said preliminary investigations indicated teachers restricted pupils to use of just one staircases and reserved the other for themselves.

“The investigations are progressing well. We are trying to establish whether there was negligence on the part of teachers and whether the evidence on record can support criminal culpability on their part,” he said.

READ ALSO:   Kakamega tragedy: Teachers had restricted staircase use

Western Region Police Commander Peris Kimani said the investigations were at an advanced stage.

On Monday, parents Irene Ambundo and Ibrahim Kiverenge called on the government to expedite investigations and make the findings public to end speculation.

“There is a lot of speculation concerning the death of our children. Parents, more than anybody else, are eager to know what led to the deaths,” said Ms Ambundo.

Speaking at the burial of her daughter, Prudence Elizabeth, at Upukhulu village in Navakholo on Monday, Ms Ambundo said her children had been complaining of slippery stairways in the three storey building.

She said they also complained of strange beings appearing and scaring them.

Some pupils said a teacher directed them to use the stairway on one side of the building while others claimed the stampede occurred after some blocked the way on the second floor of the building.

Mr Kiverenge, father of Naila Kiverenge, urged the public to stop spreading unconfirmed reports about the incident and await the findings of an inquiry.

“It is hurts whenever we read unconfirmed reports about the cause of the stampede on social media. Please give us a break. Give us time to mourn our children peacefully and let investigating authorities do their work and tell us what happened,” he said at the burial of victim Joseph Musami in Ikolomani.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: ‘My maternal instincts told me…’ parent narrates last moments with Kakamega pupil

He said parents were saddened and disturbed by the fact what was supposed to be a safe haven for their children turned out to be a death trap.

“The damages are immeasurable and irreversible. We want to know what killed our children at a school where they have been learning for years,” he stated.


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Slain officer sent money to father, wife at night



The family of a policeman attached to Deputy President William Ruto’s offices yesterday said they unsuccessfully tried to reach him after receiving money from him through mobile phone transactions.

Sergeant Kipyegon Kenei, 33, was found dead in his house in Villa Franca estate in Imara Daima, Nairobi last Thursday at about 4pm, with a bullet wound to the head.

His father John Chesang yesterday narrated how his son sent him Sh10,000 through M-Pesa and did another Sh35,000 to his wife, Judith Yegon.Kenei did not, however, answer or return phone calls they made to him to find out what the money was meant for.

The money was transferred from Kenei’s Equity Bank account a day before his body was found in his house.

According to the data obtained, Kenei spoke with his wife on Tuesday February 18 at 9:41pm before he sent her a message 10 minutes later.

The Sh35,000 was transferred from the bank’s account on February 19 at 12:25am while Chesang received Sh10,000 at about 7:32am on Wednesday.At 12:25am on Wednesday, his wife sent him a nodding emoji and asked what the money was for, but there was no response.

At 4:50am on Wednesday, his wife sent him another message, in question marks, seeking to know the purpose of the money, but there was no response.

READ ALSO:   Kakamega tragedy: Teachers had restricted staircase use

Kenei’s mobile phone was off for the better part of Wednesday until 9:25pm when his wife sent a message to him seeking to know where he was.

Speaking to The Standard from his home in Chamasis village in Rongai yesterday, Chesang wondered why his son would send them money then refuse to answer calls or reply to text messages.

No communication

“It is hard for us to comprehend if my son sent us money or someone used his account, because there was no communication. We received the money unexpectedly and there was no urgency for it,” said the father.

Efforts to reach out to Kenei through his social media platforms were also futile, as his accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, were deactivated, leaving the family in distress, Chesang said.

Ms Yegon also frantically tried to reach him through WhatsApp, but he still did not respond.Chesang revealed that the highest amount of money Kenei would send to his wife was between Sh2,000 and Sh3,000.

“The Sh35,000 was very unusual to us,” said the grieving man.

He said he suspected that his son, the fourth in a family of seven, might have been in distress when making the transaction.

Chesang said it was unlike Kenei to communicate to the family at night, unless he was facing a pressing issue that required immediate attention.He said normally his son would switch off his mobile phone at around 9pm every night, saying he needed time to relax after work.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: ‘My maternal instincts told me…’ parent narrates last moments with Kakamega pupil

Demanding job

“He would tell us that his job was demanding and that he needed time to relax after 9pm, and that is why he would switch off his phone,” Chesang said.

He added: “The death of my son has taken a toll on our family. We suspect he was tormented, forced to send us the money by assailants who killed him.”

Kenei was scheduled to record a statement with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in connection to a Sh39.5 billion fake firearm tender.

The officer was said to be on duty when former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa hosted two foreigners at Harambee House Annex building.Chesang said the family was dissatisfied with investigations and questioned why Kenei’s body was moved from the crime scene without thorough investigations then later returned.

It took the intervention of the DCI boss George Kinoti to have homicide department take charge of the crime scene.

“How did police carry my son’s body to the mortuary and leave the pistol that lay next to it? Didn’t we have investigators to comb the house?” he asked.

Kenei’s elder brother, Kimutai, said they suspected he might have been killed by assailants who later dumped the body inside his house.

Kimutai questioned why there were no blood stains in the house whose door was found open when the body was found.In addition, the family wants the DCI to retrieve Kenei’s last communication and its content.

READ ALSO:   Gone too soon: Parents speak of dashed hopes

“We want to know who was calling him and the message they were having. It is such information that will lead to key suspects in his mysterious death arrested,” said Kimutai.Homicide detectives yesterday revisited the officer’s house and reconstructed the scene using experts.Mr Kinoti led the team including doctors and a cartoonist to reconstruct the scene.

They staged a mock shooting to confirm if the gunshot could be heard and how far. Neighbours said they did not hear any sound of gunshot from the house where Kenei lived. [Mercy Kahenda, Cyrus Ombati and Jennifer Anyango]

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Olekina: I’m a radical rights defender, not a tribal warlord



“I am an extremist for freedom and liberty and radical for the gentles’”

That was Narok Senator Ledama Olekina  in an interview with Spice FM this morning.During the morning talk show Situation Room hosted by Charles Muga, Eric Latiff and Ndu Odoh, Olekina explains his utterances during the Saturday’s Building Bridges Initiative rally in Narok on Saturday.

The youthful senator stirred the audience when he said that the Maa people had been sidelined and their plight needed to be addressed.Olekina called on the BBI steering committee to solve the land issues in the Maasai-dominated areas such as Narok, so that the local people could maintain a steady income.“On matters of food security, what will our people eat if you take our land? They must remain as agricultural land, use legitimate process if you want to subdivide them,” said Olekina.

“So long as I live, I will pursue justice for these people who I represent,” he said.His utterances, which had already lit debate in social media got the backing of Kakamega Senator Cleopas Malala and Suna East Member of Parliament Junet Mohammed. Malala, for instance, said that Maasai people needed to have a chance to produce more leaders in their areas for inclusivity.

“If we Luhyas in Western Kenya lead our people, and it happens in other communities as well, why don’t the Maasai people be given the opportunity to produce their leaders? It is not fair to fight for their few seats,” said Malala.Their statements ignited even more dissent especially from leaders drawn from North Rift areas.

READ ALSO:   Kakamega tragedy: Teachers had restricted staircase use

War of words

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony yesterday lashed at Mr Olekina’s sentiments.Chepkwony said that even though the plight of the Maasai was an issue of concern to be addressed, it would not be a wise move to violate the rights of legal landowners.

He said that Olekina’s sentiments amounted to warmongering.“We call upon the president to intervene as the trend is leading the country in the wrong direction,” he said.Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui also added his voice terming the leaders’ statements at the BBI meeting as retrogressive.

“Utterances attributed to a section of leaders during the Narok BBI meeting in relation to non-indigenous land owners and reclaiming land across three counties were ill-advised,” said Kinyanjui.But, Senator Olekina remained unfazed and said that he was being misunderstood.

He said he was fighting for the rights of his constituents whom he described as ‘children of a lesser god.’He said: “BBI has given us an opportunity to come out and air our problems. If people are not willing to handle the truth when we say ‘this is our problem’ then they don’t live in the 21st century.”

Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina, Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana at Narok Stadium during BBI meeting in Narok. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Clearing the air

While explaining his utterances, which have been considered to be inciting, Olekina said that he was rather championing for re-look of land policy and not barring non-locals from settling in Maasai regions.He said that contrary to how his critics perceive him, he is not against any particular community. “I have no problem with the Kipsigis in fact I have eight people from Kipsigis community working in my farm,” he said.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: ‘My maternal instincts told me…’ parent narrates last moments with Kakamega pupil

He argued that non-locals were buying land meant for agriculture, subdividing it and selling the same to make huge profits. For example, he said that in interior places, some people could buy land for as low as Sh70,000 per acre then they subdivide and sell for at least Sh350,000 per acre.Olekina said that the practice was denying locals economic progress the subdivided land cannot accommodate a huge population.

He also argued that pastoralists ended up restricted they cannot move to seek for pasture.“If you want 20 acres, use it to grow food so that we can buy it from you,” he stated.

He accused Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony and his Senator Aaron Cheruiyot of applying double standards in handling issues.“Those people who are still in their tribal cocoons keep pointing fingers at me. Why should a governor of Kericho call a press conference and say this guy is a tribal warlord?” he posed.“The big communities do not want to hear about inclusivity if it touches them. But as long as it doesn’t touch them, they are ok.

”He accused a section of North Rift leaders, whom he did not name, of hypocrisy. He claimed that same leaders relentlessly fought for one of their own to be installed as the vice chancellor of Moi University, but conversely, pointed fingers at him.“I am not fighting the other tribes…They were up in arms fighting for one of them to be the vice-chancellor at the university,” he stated.

READ ALSO:   14 pupils die in Kakamega school stampede

Supporting Sen Olekina on the land policy question was a former Permanent Secretary who also vied for the Presidency in 2013 Prof Joseph Ole Kiyiapi.Prof Kiyiapi said Ole Kina “is being criticised for not being politically correct at JKLive but in fact, he provided deep insights of sentiments at core of tribalism in Kenya. True national cohesion must be based on the deeply ingrained culture of inclusivity and integration programs,” he tweeted on February 21.

By Standard

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Matatu rams into Equity Bank branch, injures seven



A 14-seater matatu hit three vehicles before ploughing into a building housing the Equity Bank branch in Chuka town, injuring seven passengers among them five students going back to school after their mid-term break.

Confirming the Sunday evening incident, Meru South Sub-County Police Commander Joseph Kavoo said the injured were rushed to Chuka County Referral Hospital.

“The seven injured passengers were in a public transport vehicle that hit some other vehicles before ploughing into the main gate of Equity Bank,” said Mr Kavoo.

Witnesses said the driver of the Mekina Sacco matatu lost control of the vehicle immediately after leaving Chuka town bus park.

It hit a private car before ramming into two others, then ploughed into the Equity Bank building’s main door.

“I think the vehicle had a problem because immediately the engine was fired, the vehicle took off at high speed, hitting other vehicles and ploughing into the bank building,” said Mr James Mutegi, a trader.

Tharaka-Nithi County rescue team manager Alex Mugambi said two students who were seated at the front of the matatu were bleeding profusely.

Immediately after the incident, police led by Mr Kavoo secured the scene, making sure that members of public do not take advantage of the situation to loot money and other property.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: ‘My maternal instincts told me…’ parent narrates last moments with Kakamega pupil


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