, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 20 – Hundreds of boys at the Kivuli Centre in Kawangware defended embattled Catholic Fr Renato Kizito on Saturday amid allegations that he had sodomised several young boys under his care.
The group of current and old boys at the institution told a news conference at the centre that they believed Fr Kizito could not have committed such a terrible crime.
“I have lived in Kivuli for all these years, I haven’t heard any complaint of Fr Kizito sodomising any child,” said Kevin Otieno
Mr Otieno joined the centre at the age of 13 year; he is now 22-years-old.
He described Fr Kizito as a real ‘man of God’ to many boys that he had taken from the streets and whom were rehabilitated at the centre.
Fr Kizito is the founder of the Koinonia Community which recruits boys mainly from the streets or orphaned, especially by HIV/AIDS.
Mr Otieno, who is now a student at Catholic University, said Fr Kizito treated the children with passion and would never have turned against them.
“He comes and plays with the children. They are very free with him and he is someone we the children love and talk to freely. He has a father to son relationship, you can even ask these children here,” he said.
Mr Otieno also expressed shock with the three boys who had accused the priest of sodomising them.
He said he had shared a room with one of them, whom he described as unruly and ‘hopeless’.
“I saw him on television, he was never serious when he was at the centre, he used to run away from time to time. He was those unruly boys, and all this time if he was sodomised he could have told me, but he never did,”
23-year-old Sylvester said that the boys accusing Fr Kizito must have been coerced into doing so.
“They are being paid. They are given promises of huge money so that they can go and say this to the media,” he alleged.
He went on to say, “if it was true, we have counsellors coming here at the centre, we also have others at Nairobi Women’s Hospital, how comes there are no such reports. We have avenues of raising complaints and we are protected, these are just lies because no one has been sodomised by Mzee (Father).”
The boys said that they believed Fr Kizito was being sabotaged so that his property is taken from him.
A Community Health Volunteer at the centre Mwihaki Ngugi said; “Kama haya maneno ni ya ukweli, sisi ndio tungekuwa wa kwanza wa kujua (If this is true, we would have been the first ones to know).”
She said that they were very involved at the centre and they had never heard anything about the father sodomising or even making any sexual advances towards the boys.
Mrs Ngugi, who has worked at the centre for about 10 years, said hat they were very open with the boys and should anything of the sort have occurred they would have been told.
“This is a fight of workers based on selfish interests for the resources that belong to this centre. The truth should come out and I believe it will then you will find that Fr Kizito is clean,” she said.
The renowned priest who has extensively worked in Kenya for over 20 years offering charity work dismissed a news item aired by an independent local television station on Monday night that said it had more video footage of “him with the boys.”
"I have not and I have never sodomised any child ever in Kenya or anywhere else. Let me state very clearly that I am ready to face anybody who can prove to the contrary,” he said.
Fr Kizito told reporters the allegations were a result of “people who are out to malign my name and take over my properties.”
He singled out former trustees of one of his shelter homes, Koinonia, of “scheming to take over the property.”
Fr Kizito said his troubles started sometimes last October when unknown people circulated an e-mail depicting him with a naked person.
“That was certainly the work of photo editing techniques and I ignored it,” he added.
Five alleged victims recorded statements with police at the CID headquarters, and Fr Kizito is expected to be questioned as police get to the bottom of the matter.