BY SAM ALFAN.
Nine officers from the dreaded General Service Unit (GSU) have moved to court to block their prosecution over the killings of four protestors in Masimba area in Kajiado in June.
The officers have been accused of shooting dead the protestors who had barricaded the key Mobasa-Nairobi highway, to protest an increase in human-wildlife conflict in the area.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority recommended the officers to be charged and the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji agreed that the officers used excessive force against the demonstrators.
But the officers including Cornelio Tokoyi, John Njoroge, Zakayo Kurere, Hosea Chikara, Mohamed Walla, Zakayo Kurere, Kipkorir Sigisin, Adan Nunow and Wambua Kilonzo said they did not plan the murders but ran into the protestors on their way back to Mombasa after delivering money to Nairobi.
“Owing to the fact that the applicants were ordinarily discharging their mandated role, they seek the intervention of this court in a bid to be protected by this honorable court; being the custodian of the law,” pleads the GSU officers.
Justice Anthony Ndung’u directed the DPP and IPOA to file replies to the petition within three days so that he can decide whether to stop the intended charges.
The officers said they were summoned by IPOA on November 4 and were later informed to head to Kibra Police station for their fingerprints to be taken.
Through lawyer Danstan Omari, the officers said they were never informed of the reason as to why their fingerprints were to be processed.
They were later locked in a cell without explanation and were issued a form under section 52(1) of the National Police Service Act, for a conditional precedent to their release.
The said form required them to attend IPOA Headquarters on 9/11/2022 at 0900hrs for investigation of alleged murder or causing grievous harm charges.
According to their court documents, there are reliable resources that indicate that the DPP has already recommended for them to be charged.
“It is very probable, that the arrest and possible preference of charges of the active officers serving under the National Police Service, who are the applicants herein; discharging their mandate as prescribed in the law, is inspired by a political agenda and vendetta; whereas the President made remarks on Mashujaa Day with regards to extrajudicial killings,” says the nine officers.
Through lawyer Omari, they say in court documents that they were tasked with escorting money from Mombasa to Nairobi on June 1, on the De La Rue consignment, an operation headed by Tokoyi. They were in two land cruisers GKB 634Y and GKB 620Y.
Due to the sensitivity of the cargo they were escorting, one of the officers had a pistol while the rest had AK-47s.
The cargo was safely transported to Nairobi and the team slept at GSU headquarters. On June 2, they were briefed by Tokoyi ready to head back to Mombasa.
The journey was well until reaching Masimba center at around 1300hrs just after Emali, where they encountered a huge traffic jam.
Upon inquiry from one of the track drivers, they were informed it might have been caused by a vehicle breakdown.
“The 1st Applicant advised the drivers to put on a siren; which is normally used for emergency. And in the 1st applicant’s official capacity, it was only humane to his team; that the siren is put on so that the way may be cleared since the officers had been working all day and night on the 1st June 2022, and had not yet rested nor had any sleep,” says the GSU officers.
According to the officers, with the siren, they navigated the traffic well, however after about approximately 500 meters into the traffic; they were unable to proceed since it was barricaded with stones, logs and bon-fires were ablaze.
They claim there were approximately over 1,500 rioters who were quite agitated. The mob allegedly began to surround them while armed with bows, arrows, rungus, pangas and all manner of weapons.
They added that the rioters were visibly angry and had taken charge of the scene with some positioning themselves on top of trees.
The mob comprised members of the Maasai community mainly farmers and livestock keepers; who had staged a demonstration on the Mombasa highway, protesting over destruction of their crops by marauding elephants.
On the fateful day, they were demonstrating over the death of a primary school teacher who was trampled to death by an elephant in the previous week.
Since the mob outnumbered the officers, their drivers were unable to either reverse the motor vehicles or move forward, forcing them to alight despite the continuing throwing stones.
One of their seniors directed an officer to fire in the air but the crowd allegedly surged towards them and the drivers managed to escape leaving them behind.
Kassim was hit by a weapon that could not be identified at the time since it was fast and could have been a panga or a stone or a rungu and fell unconscious and his riffle fell aside.
They said PC Chikara made effort to rush and take the fallen rifle and he was also hit on the head and on the leg as the mob was coming on to him to try and take away the rifle, consequently harming him as well.
The pressure and the situation was getting worse and upon site that the applicants team was getting overwhelmed; they were forced to all fire one round of ammunition in the air in a bid to disperse the mob and rioters.
The mob was persistent; knowing too well that they had outnumbered the applicants. Subsequently, the applicants again fired ammunition in the air as they tried to evacuate casualties to safety being Pc Chakar and PC Kassim.
That of greater importance and of public interest; amidst them, there were high flammable petrol tankers and trucks numbering over 100 which were the closest to the scene, while the bon fires were still ablaze. There were also over 100 passenger vehicles who were still stuck in traffic, also being hit by the rioters,” says the officers.
This prompted the officers in view of public interest of the civilians trapped in traffic jam together with the high flammable petrol tanks; to fire more in the air in order to push them further away in a bid not to have more casualties.
“The 1st applicant confirmed his team; most of them had suffered injuries from the lethal weapons and himself had also sustained head injuries in the head, neck and hip. It was imperative that they sought medical attention immediately since it was a war with a community that is known to carry weapons such as bows, arrows, pangas which may very well be laced,” the court documents read.