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Vets call for reinstatement of KWS officers suspended over rhino deaths

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Veterinary professionals have called for the immediate reinstatement of their colleagues who were suspended from the Kenya Wildlife Service over the death of the 10 rhinos during the translocation in June this year. 

Tourism CS Najib Balala had suspended six KWS officers in July over the death of the rhinos accusing them of negligence, citing an inquiry report. 

He also demoted director general Julius Kimani, appointing Dr Charles Musyoki as a replacement in an acting capacity.

But the Kenyan Veterinary Board appointed a seven-member inquiry team led by Vijay Varma, a vet lecturer at the University of Nairobi to investigate the professional conduct of the suspended officers in handling the translocation process. 

The team released its report on Monday, exonerating the suspended officers of any professional negligence. 

Commenting on the report, the board’s chair Chirstopher Wanga said the report is exhaustive and that it has vindicated the officers.

“The vet professionals have been discharged from any professional culpability,” he said, adding that “they followed the right procedure in handling the translocation process.”

Hesitating from blaming the CS on the action taken against the officers, Wanga emphasized that the blame should squarely be on the instability at the board of the KWS. 

“We hope the report will be used to stabilise the board and have vet professionals versed on issues of health and welfare, rather than being full of conservationists as it is now,” he said. 

“Leadership at the board also needs to be stabilised,” said Wanga.

The board needs to be there all the time, he added.

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But Union of Veterinary Practitioners in Kenya (UVPK) secretary general Benson Kibore called for the immediate reinstatement of the suspended officers.

“We are not just calling for reinstatement of our colleagues but also the full implementation of the released report,” he said.

He also threatened court action “for damages for our colleagues because their reputations have been seriously wounded”.

“We have been following this matter from inception and now as then, we maintain that our colleagues were used to cover for the failure of the top management and CS Balala,” he said.

Kibore also alleged that the translocation exercise was bound to fail because it was conducted against professional advice in a bid to “utilise money.”

“The financial year of the WWF was coming to an end and they just wanted to clear the money allocated to them before the turn of the year,” he said.

The Kenya Veterinary Association former secretary general Kenneth Wameyo, who is also a vet consultant, also emphasized the need to “reinstate our professional colleagues forthwith to the KWS.”

Those suspended included Samuel Kasiki who was the deputy director biodiversity, research and monitoring at the wildlife agency and Francis Gakuya who headed veterinary services division.

The head of capture service Isaac Leekolol was also shown the door.

Others were Felix Mwangangi, the senior warden at Tsavo East, head of ecological monitoring Mohammed Omar and Fredrick Odock Lala, the senior scientist at the park.

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Frosty ties between police and Olenguruone residents

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Rossy Lang’at (center), the mother of Emmanuel Kipkoech, 17, a Form two student at Sugutek Secondary School being consoled after her son was shot on the right hip by a police officer while dispersing protestors at Mlango trading centre. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Over the years, Kiptagich and Olenguruone police stations, which are barely 15km apart, have been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Several times police officers at the stations who are supposed to be enforcers of the law have found themselves under sharp civilian criticism for breaking the same laws.
From deaths of civilians in their hands in unclear circumstances or by the law keepers’ bullets, to cases of assaults and drunk driving, the residents have found themselves demanding that the officers live up to the discipline as expected from the service.
Shockingly, the officers accused of breaking the law and some who have been arraigned have held senior positions at the two stations.
At the height of 1992 and 2007 post-election chaos, which are the worst the country has ever gone through, officers here were placed in a spot by human rights activists for taking sides based on ethnic lines.
Since then the relationship between villagers and the officers has been frosty. The residents appear to have lost confidence in the law enforcement officers and in some instances expressed their frustrations through violent protests.
In the most recent incident last weekend, at a roadblock erected at Mulango and manned by police officers attached to Kiptagich police station, officers flagged down a car bound for Tenwek Hospital in Bomet County.
The roadblock had been set up to stop movement of people from Nakuru County to Bomet County following a zonal lockdown that has since been lifted.

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The driver and the child’s mother are said to have disembarked from the vehicle to inform the police that they were rushing a sick child to hospital, but their plea landed on deaf ears.
Alex Tonui, a resident, explained that the two returned to their vehicle only to find that the child had already died, causing the woman to break down and attracting the attention of residents.
“The residents confronted the police officers. The situation escalated after more officers were deployed from Kiptagich and Olenguruone police stations,” said Tonui says.
A one-hour running battle between the police and the residents who had blocked the road left at least one civilian dead, police officers injured and property destroyed.
The deceased was identified as Emmanuel Kipkoech, a 17-year-old Form Two student at Kiptagich Secondary School.

Police at Olenguruone Police station in Kuresoi South, Nakuru county on May 4, 2021.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

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During a visit to the Kipkoech’s home yesterday, his mother Rossy Langat was inconsolable as she mourned the death of her son, who the family said they had great hopes on.
“My only son. Why did it have to be him? He was my only child,” she wailed as women struggled to get her back to her house.
Esther Lang’at, a neighbour, said Kipkoech had left home in the morning to do laundry at the banks of a seasonal river near the family’s farm.
“As he was waiting for the clothes to dry, he heard people screaming at Mulango trading centre. He stood at a corridor watching the battle unfold before the police started firing in the air. Minutes later, Kipkoech was lying in a pool of blood,” said Lang’at.
Gilbert Toroitich, the medical superintendent at Olenguruone Sub-county Hospital, said efforts to save Kipkoech’s life were futile.
“He had already lost too much blood and turned pale. He had a bullet that entered through the right hip. We tried to resuscitate him but unfortunately lost him,” said Dr Toroitich.
Kuresoi South Police Commander Henry Nyaranga accused the residents of overreacting and taking the law into their hands.
“The residents blew the situation out of proportion. They extensively damaged police vehicles and we now have two police officers admitted in hospital with serious injuries,” said Nyaranga.
The sub-county police boss has, however, dismissed claims that there was bad blood between the law enfocers and locals, terming the incidents isolated and spread over a long period of time.
“I am not aware of any brewing beef between our officers and the civilians. The cases that were reported recently are either before court or under investigation. The officers are not above the law and the citizens should not take the law into their own hands either,” said Mr Nyaranga.
He said 34 people were arrested and presented before court where they faced charges of being in an illegal gathering, flouting Covid-19 regulations and vandalising police vehicles.
Tension remained high around Olenguruone and Kiptagich police stations, with the residents reportedly planning to burn down the two stations where tens of motorbikes had been impounded. “We detained over 30 bodabodas and arrested 34 people. The residents planned to burn down the stations on Monday. We mobilised police officers from other sub-counties and investigations are on,” said Nyaranga.

The two deaths, however, have emerged to have been a trigger for the simmering tension between the police and the residents who have had a fair share of each other’s wrath in the past.
A chief inspector of police attached to Kiptagich is under investigation for assaulting Maragaret Chelang’at who he found outside during curfew hours last month. “Her case was booked at Olenguruone Police Station vide OB number 9/17/04/2021,” said Nyaranga.
In June last year, Inspector David Kiprotich, Police Constables Henry Mureithi and Tom Kikao attached to Kiptagich, were arrested and charged at Molo Law Courts after they were captured mistreating a suspect.
The officers were filmed dragging Mercy Cherono, 21, with her hands tied at the back of a motorbike after she allegedly stole electronics and cash from a house belonging to one of the officers.
A week later, Police Constable Fred Amaya, who was stationed at Kiptagich, wrecked a police vehicle after he took an unassigned drive while drunk.
Two weeks after he was discharged from hospital, Amaya committed suicide by hanging himself in a bathroom within the station.
In July 2014, Olenguruone Police Station, which is the sub-county headquarters, was extensively damaged as the residents protested the murder of a bartender in the hands of the police.
Caren Chepkoech Rono died in the back of a police vehicle on July 8, 2014 while in the custody of corporal Silas Marimi, constables Reuben Maino and Wycliffe Wangila who were later charged with murder.
Charles Ng’eno, a witness in the case, testified that the three dragged Ms Rono from a bar and bundled her into a police vehicle.
Although the three officers were acquitted of murder charges, a postmortem report indicated that she either hit her head against a surface or was hit with a blunt object.
“There was violent brain shake to cause counter coupe injuries. This could have been caused by either the head moving towards and hitting a hard surface several times or the force hitting the head several times,” the report read.
Interviewed residents have revealed that there has been bad blood between them and the police in the area over their conduct.
Paul Chelule, an elder, said that the officers have been operating outside the law in their handling of arrested persons and the use of excessive force.
“I watched in horror as the boy was shot. The officers who came as back-up didn’t make any attempts to calm the crowd. Instead they started firing live bullets in the air. They should have used teargas instead,” said Chelule.
Another resident said that there have been many unresolved assault cases by the officers which leaves the villagers view them as enemies.
“The young boy was with his friends and they were not part of those protesting. Many people have suffered in the hands of the police and denied justice. The incident has rekindled past experiences,” said Langat.
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TENDER NO. 28/KBC/2020-2021 FENCING OF KENYA BROADCASTING CORPORATION’S PARCEL OF LAND IN NYALENDA (KISUMU). – KBC

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TENDER NO. 28/KBC/2020-2021 FENCING OF KENYA BROADCASTING CORPORATION’S PARCEL OF LAND IN NYALENDA (KISUMU). – KBC | Kenya’s Watching





















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Suluhu: Closer ties for Kenya and Tanzania

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?President Samia Suluhu’s address to Parliament was a masterclass in charm, punctuated by periodic applause and stomping of feet by Kenyan lawmakers.

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