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Reporter recalls fatal Kisumu shooting

NAIROBI November 12 – A foreign journalist on Wednesday testified in a case in which a police officer is accused of killing two protestors in Kisumu at the height of post election violence in January.

Ms Lucy Hannah who was a freelance journalist working for the UK-based Channel 4 Television, told trial judge Onesmus Mutungi that she witnessed the shooting in Kondele which resulted in the death of the two civilians.

“I could hear shooting periodically. I was scared but I wanted to see if there was a consequence of that shooting,” Ms Hannah testified. “I saw a security officer dressed in camouflage and wearing a helmet stalking a target with his gun ready to fire.”

Ms Hannah however said she was unable to identify the shooting officer, but said she inquired about the use of live ammunition against the protestors from officers at the scene.

She claimed that she personally saw two young men who had emerged from an alley between houses and kiosks (while on the run from police) felled by bullets.

"They (protestors) were laughing and taunting (the police),” she claimed.

Police constable Edward Kirui against whom the British journalist testified, is facing murder charges for allegedly killing Ishmael Chacha and George William Onyango in Kondele, Kisumu on January 15.

The incident was captured on camera by journalists from a local media house which has already been used as evidence in court.

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She narrated: “I saw the police officer shoot two men.  Both of them fell down, then he assaulted one of them who had fallen on the ground.”

“The young man he kicked was still alive but the other lay numb. He booted him and went on as if with a mission,” she quipped.

Hannah who said she now works for the BBC told the court that her cameraman also captured the incident on tape and that she filed a report that was aired on Channel 4 Television in the UK later that day.

She maintained that the two shot young men were unarmed and did not appear confrontational.

Kibaki effigy

She said she had travelled to Kisumu in the company of two cameramen after reports indicated that there was likelihood of riots in the lakeside town due to the disputed presidential poll.

The journalist narrated to the court of how Kisumu had been engulfed by a jubilant mood after the election of Kenneth Marende as Speaker of National Assembly.

“The atmosphere in Kisumu was of jubilation because Mr Marende had been elected as Speaker. In Nyalenda, crowds were in a jubilant and highly excited mood. They were carrying weapons like sticks, pangas, knives and iron rods,” she said.

According to her, police allegedly fired bullets at the crowds despite having tear gas canisters.

“I spoke to an officer who was in command and asked why they were using live ammunition. He did not answer,” she added.

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She claimed that the police were the focus of anger from the crowd because there had been rumours that gangs had been hired to fight on behalf of government.

The crowds allegedly sang as they protested and burnt an effigy of President Mwai Kibaki in a coffin near Kondele market.

“There was no obvious trigger. The crowd was behaving in the same way. No tear gas was used, at least an hour before the shooting incident,” she said.

The hearing of the case continues.

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