NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 17 – Stephen Chemalang’, Emmanuel Bull, Kimepo and an unknown male identified as ‘Brown,’ on account of his light skin colour, were adversely mentioned when the ICC prosecution’s first witness took to the stand on Tuesday.
The witness known only as P0536 to protect her identity was overcome with emotion as she recounted the roles the four individuals played in the torching and subsequent murder of those who had sought refuge at the Kenya Assemblies of God church in Kiambaa on January 1, 2008.
She accused Chemalang’ of leading about 3,000 youths covered in white chalk to the church compound with machetes, bows and arrows in tow.
“Chemelang’ himself was wearing khaki trousers and a bandana on his head, I saw him through a crack in the church window with a blue jerrycan in his hand. He poured the contents of the jerrycan, petrol, onto one of our mattresses and threw it onto the roof of the church in which we were hiding,” she recounted.
The witness said she was one of 2,000, mainly mothers and children, who had sought safety in the confines of the modest church constructed using wood, mud and corrugated iron sheets.
“We were getting ready to prepare our morning tea when we heard chanting and saw two groups of youth coming from behind us and the left. They were singing ‘hae ho,’ and the men told us to get the children and get into the church,” she said.
These men, she said, used the victims’ bicycles to barricade the main door of the church while they stood outside the side door to ensure nobody made a run for it and survived.
One woman tried to escape, the witness testified, and paid the price for it. “It’s very hard for me to relay this incident to you because she was a friend of mine. Her name was Margaret Wanjiru and when she ran out of the church to beg Brown for help they raped her,” the witness relayed as she broke down.
The witness went on to narrate how she sought help from an elder for her friend but only succeeded in getting him felled by an axe, “his name was Baba Sharogo,” she revealed.
But it took an attack on her brother for her to come out of hiding, “he had been hiding in the church compound but before he could save himself they shot him with an arrow which lodged itself at the nape of his neck,” the witness recalled sobbing.