NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 2 – The Defence Ministry is now asking members of the public with information confirming allegations that Kenya Defence Forces officers looted at the Westgate mall to share the evidence.
In a statement to newsrooms on Thursday, Defence Secretary Raychelle Omamo explained that the allegations were alarming and needed prompt action.
“The attention of the Ministry of Defence was drawn by reports in the mass media casting negative aspersions in KDF’s operational mandate, conduct and management during the Westgate Siege Rescue Operation.”
She went on: “KDF’s conduct inside the mall was guided by international Standard Operating Procedures that govern such missions. The allegations therefore came to us with consternation and we as a ministry are committed to get to the bottom of it.”
Omamo further assured the protection of any witness saying that the information will be treated with absolute confidence.
“We appeal for public participation in availing concrete information and evidence pointing to any KDF personnel engaging in unprofessional conduct during the mall siege,”
“Please be assured that all information presented will be treated with utmost confidentiality,” Omamo stressed.
The Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi called a crisis meeting on Thursday morning amid claims that his officers looted businesses at Westgate during the four-day terror siege at the mall.
The meeting was attended by 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.
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.
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, affirming that the government takes seriously the allegations further warning of dire consequences of perpetrators.