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Journalists Protest Over Their Colleagues’ Attack, Demand Guns.

Journalists and whistleblowers who use the Right to Information law, have played an indispensable role in exposing corruption and the ills within the society we live in. Corruption scandals make for attention-grabbing headlines, but when journalists who expose wrongdoing are attacked or killed in the line of duty, their murder is often the end of the story. The perpetrators are seldom arrested.

Activity in Murang’a Town on Thursday was brought to a halt when tens of disillusioned journalists protested the attack on their colleagues by Kakuzi security guards sometimes last week. The scribes petitioned the area DCC and Murang'a Police Chief Johnstone Limo to guarantee them of their safety. They complained that they were constantly exposed to physical attacks especially from those they exposed in wrong doings, completely sabotaging their ability to work freely.

While, protesting the assault on their colleagues covering a students’ demonstration against Kakuzi’s encroachment of their land, the journalists took out a march to both the District Headquarters and the police lines. Walking along the streets of Murang’a Town with placards, the protesters demanded the arrest and the immediate prosecution of the perpetrators whom they claimed were known as a video clip showing the attack was very elaborate.

Chanting ‘Kakuzi Must GO!’ ‘No More Attacks On Journalists’, the scribes demanded to know what action the authorities had taken to punish the attackers.

“Freedom of Speech and Information is guaranteed in the Constitution. What kind of justice is this where the media is threatened by those who felt that their clandestine activities were being exposed? This seems to be an attempt to crush dissent in the country as even the police seem to be in support of the perpetrators! Our colleagues were badly beaten up,” said one journalist who participated in the protest.

The journalist claimed that the attackers, who were at least 200 in number, attacked James Mburu Gaita (NTV) and Julius Kariithi Munene (Royal Media) with sticks and stones while they were covering a demonstration by Gititu Secondary School students who were trying to reclaim their land back.

“This sort of an attack is an attack on the rule of law and the very foundation of the idea of justice. If such cases were honestly and effectively investigated and the perpetrators and those behind them punished, there would be no more attacks on us. These criminals need to realise that if they attack us they will be up against a powerful, united collective reaction and not a collective silence as usual,” he said.

Another lady journalist said, “Our criminal justice system depends a lot on the police for they are the ones responsible for the first stages in any investigation. That is why we are demanding a speedy and comprehensive report from them and action on the perpetrators.”

Francis Kilango, a journalist with Citizen and Inooro Tv said that the journalists were very embarrassed by the manner in which the area County Commissioner evaded them, considering the fact that the security docked fell under his shoulders.

“How can the head of security refer us to the county commander, his junior? We are very perturbed. Up to now, no any single politician nor government official has condemned this barbaric incident by the Kakuzi guards on innocent journalists despite the story featuring very prominently in the media. The goons are still scot-free even after seriously injuring our colleagues while on duty. We are giving the government a one day ultimatum to arrest the culprits and charged with attempted murder, including robbery with violence,” retorted Kilango.

He warned that failure to hear out their grievances, the scribes would seek the intervention of the international community to have justice accorded to the victims.

“We cannot have this lying down. We need protection especially now we are approaching the General Elections. We need to be insured too, and if not, be allowed to arm ourselves with guns,” he said.

Joseph Ndung’u castigated the area politicians for giving this incident a wide berth.

“It is quite sad that none of our MPs or even our governor has shown interest in this. It is a shame because whenever they have issues with their adversaries they cry out to us so that we can highlight their plight. Where are they now? Do the only need us when we are service to them?” he asked.

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He warned Kakuzi firm that if action was not taken against them, the journalists would stage the ‘Mother of all Demos’ to demand for justice.

Julius Kariithi was disappointed with action that led to his attack. He pleaded for justice from the authorities but vowed that he would not relent in his duty and in the pursuit of justice.

His fellow victim, Mburu Gaita, pleaded to well-wishers and Kenyans of goodwill to help him raise the requisite amount that the doctors were demanding to help him undergo a body scan. He complained of some spinal pains that had been caused by the attack.

He further complained of the loss of his camera that according to him was his ‘jembe’ thereby disabling him completely.

“I can now not be able to report to work. My kids are at home due to lack of fees. I am unable to raise money for a medical scan. I therefore appeal to all of good will to help me raise this money. I also demand justice for I was only executing my duties as a journalist,” said Mburu.

Responding to the irate journalists, Limo said that they were aware of the case and had delegated the investigations to the Gatanga DCIO. He referred the complainants to the DCIO to record statements.

“Justice has to take its course. We can only give full details of the case after the investigations are complete,” he assured the journalists.

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