NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 23 – Rioting students from the University of Nairobi on Wednesday caused destruction and looting during a demonstration to protest the death of a colleague after he was allegedly assaulted at a pub in Westlands.
The students from the engineering department of the university destroyed property worth millions of shillings during the protest that started shortly after 10am, lasting for five hours.
They first converged on Harry Thuku Road near the university before they marched through University Way, Waiyaki Way into Westlands where they broke into shops and lit bonfires outside Psys club where their colleague was allegedly assaulted a week ago.
Denis Omondi Adari, a second year engineering student was reportedly assaulted during a confrontation with guards at the club before he succumbed to his injuries in hospital. He is due to be buried this Saturday.
"We want to know what happened. Why was our colleague killed? The government must take action," one student who participated in the demonstration demanded as they looted property at adjacent shops.
The students pelted the club with stones, destroyed flower vases and other decorations on the main entrance to Psys Bar before they lit bonfires outside the club. Some tried to gain access inside but they were unsuccessful.
Anti riot police who were strategically positioned outside the club watched from a distance as their seniors engaged the students in a heated exchange, persuading them to remain peaceful.
"We are not demanding much… all we want is to see the management of this club, we want an explanation and once they come out to talk to us we will be able to go back to college," one of the protestors identified as Gilbert, one said.
The chaos forced other traders to hurriedly shut down their businesses for fear of looting but a few who did not close in time suffered the wrath of the demonstrators.
In some instances, the students broke into shops and stole items on display while others looted food items from kiosks while chanting "comrades power! comrades lunch!"
As the students made their way to Westlands, they harassed motorists caught up in the melee on Waiyaki Way and forced others to roll down their windows so they could rob them.
A group of the rioting students was seen grabbing valuables from several motorists while others demanded to be given food or money.
"Just give us anything you have to support our course, we are peaceful demonstrators who want justice done for the family of our colleague who was killed by guards," one demonstrator was heard shouting as he demanded to be given water by a motorist on Waiyaki Way.
Capital News crew witnessed as the some of the students offloading fruits from a pickup truck that was ferrying them to Nairobi.
Several crates of milk were also emptied from a lorry transporting them to the city centre which the students drunk as they marched down to Westlands shouting "comrades power".
In the ensuing melee, there were multiple accidents which occurred as a result of the confusion as motorists tried to make emergency u-turns to avoid the rowdy students.
Some motorists could not manage to turn and sat pensively in their cars and watched as the students banged their cars as others forced them to carry twigs.
Motorists who had their windows rolled up were the only lucky ones although some were forced to roll them down by a group of students which threatened to break them if they did not open.
At an earlier meeting between the university student leaders and Nairobi Central Police division commander Eric Mugambi, the students had pledged to remain peaceful throughout their demonstration.
They told the police to provide them with security and facilitate their movement on one side Waiyaki Way but this did not happen as the students took over both sides of the road and disrupted traffic.
"What are the police telling us? they cannot tell us to use one side of the road to protest. They should go and arrest those managers who watched as our colleague was being beaten," one student shouted.
Follow the author at https://twitter.com/momanyibernard