NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – The Chief of Defence Forces called a crisis meeting on Thursday, amid claims that his officers looted businesses at Westgate during the four-day terror siege at the mall.
The meeting by military chief Julius Karangi was attended by Cabinet Defence Secretary Raychelle Omamo and other top officials to discuss allegations of his officers’ involvement in theft at the mall.
There have been reports that security forces, including the military were captured on CCTV emptying cash registers and stealing items from business premises within the mall.
Sources at the Defence Headquarters told Capital FM News that military officials are now seeking to review the CCTV footage.
“The claims are very serious, particularly touching on the military. It is an issue that is being taken very seriously and that is why there have been meetings to discuss it since morning,” a source at the headquarters said. “If they are found to be culpable, a decision will be made on action to be taken.”
Police sources who have seen the CCTV footage from the mall told Capital FM News that much of it is not very clear, making it difficult to nail individual officers who turned the rescue mission into a looting spree.
Last week, a police officer was arrested and charged in court for allegedly stealing from victims at the scene but no other officer has since been arrested over the allegations which have put the integrity of Kenya’s security agencies to question.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku at the weekend confirmed that business owners had reported cases of vandalism in their premises and pledged a thorough investigation into the matter.
He explained that police had arrested three suspects, adding that such incidents ought to be reported.
“We wish to affirm that government takes very seriously allegations of looting and that those found to have engaged in looting will be prosecuted,” Lenku warned.
On the other hand, Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo has already identified four police officers whom he intends to honour for their bravery during the mall siege.
Kimaiyo’s Spokesman Masoud Mwinyi of the Administration Police on Wednesday said the planned promotions were aimed at motivating the officers and their colleagues.
“The officers will be promoted to higher ranks and maybe other rewards will be given to them,” he said. “However this does not mean that officers have to risk their lives to be rewarded, their performance and discipline are also determining factors,” Mwinyi explained.
The siege claimed the lives of 67 civilians, six security officers and five attackers. It also left 240 others injured.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced plans to set up a public inquiry to investigate lapses in the country’s security and intelligence systems.