Prison warders blamed for flare up

July 28, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIVASHA, July 28 – Prison warders contributed to setting off the post poll violence in Naivasha on January 27 this year, the former area District Commissioner Katee Mwanza accused on Friday.

Mwanza, who spoke as the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence converged in the old town, said that fighting erupted after a demonstration by residents to protest a curfew being imposed in the town by the warders turned awry.

The DC, who is currently serving in Molo District, told the Justice Phillip Waki-led commission; “I had just addressed the demonstrators, when prison warders came in and fired live bullets in the air, triggering a violent reaction.”

The administrator, who was the second to testify before the Waki team, however said that both regular and administration policemen did a commendable job in quelling the chaos.

At the start of a two-day session in Naivasha on Monday, CIPEV was informed that more than 19 people lost their lives on the first day of riots that turned ethnic in the town.

“A total of 40 people were reported dead in three days of violence, and the military was called in to assist,” Mwanza revealed, denying that excessive force was used to maintain law and order.

He added that property worth millions of shillings was destroyed in the fighting.

Pandemonium hit the old town as calm was being restored in various other trouble spots in the country, and for several days paralysed transport on the country’s main route to the Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces.

Several houses were burnt to the ground and thousands forced to seek refuge in displacement camps set up by security personnel and humanitarian agencies.

The DC however assured that as part of the reconciliation process, peace committees have been established in the town.

Justice Waki asked the administrator to provide the names of those believed to have funded organised gangs that conducted merciless killings in Naivasha, for which Mwanza is expected to appear before the CIPEV team in camera.

Meanwhile, the former officer in charge of the Naivasha Maximum Prison Duncan Ogore, whose office played a key role in assisting the IDPs, was the first to take the stand on Monday morning.

Ogore was put to task over the behaviour of his officers, who were accused of raping some displaced persons and at times using excessive force.

But the senior superintendent of police, who is currently based at the prisons training college, said that he was unaware of the allegations.

He further claimed that his officers only used batons during their patrols, and not guns with live ammunition, according to reports.

Ogore recounted that the prison facility saw an influx of over 10,000 IDPs from Naivasha town, who were briefly housed at the officers’ canteen and compound chapel.

The CIPEV team toured the Naivasha Maximum Prison to see where the IDPs were first given shelter.

The commission is expected to wind up its sittings in Naivasha on Tuesday before heading on to Nakuru, as part of its Rift Valley tour.


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