Two KTN journalists were yesterday attacked and seriously injured by students and teachers of St Stephen’s Girls Secondary School in Chumvi, Machakos County.
Caroline Bii (KTN News reporter) and Boniface Magana (cameraman) had visited the school to pursue a story of a Form Two student reported to have gone missing from the institution on March 4, two days after reporting back from half-term break.
The school is located about a kilometre from Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos County. Mary Mukami, the girl’s mother, said the school administration did not inform her that her daughter was sent back home for school fees immediately after returning from half-term break.
“I learnt that she was not in school when I called the administration to inquire about the closing date, where they informed me the girl had not returned from home,” she said.
Things, however, took a nasty turn for the journalists and their driver Immaculate Joseph after the school principal, Charles Kioko, declined to address the matter and asked them to pursue it with the school’s proprietor outside the institution’s compound.
“The principal began the assault on us by pelting my colleague, Magana, after which the charged students descended on us with all manner of crude weapons, inflicting multiple injuries on us,” said Bii.
The three were forced to run for their lives, with the students and teachers in hot pursuit. The injured crew recorded statements at Chumvi police station after which they sought treatment at Chumvi Family Hospital.
A double cabin pick-up owned by The Standard Group, which the journalists had travelled in, was also set ablaze. Police officers from Chumvi visited the scene and towed the burnt vehicle to their station.
They said two students were also injured in the chaos and were taken to Machakos Level Five Hospital. Area Deputy OCPD Salim Komora did not respond to our calls, neither did he reply to text messages sent to him over the incident.
The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) condemned the attack. MCK Chief Executive Officer David Omwoyo said claims that the head teacher declined to be interviewed on allegations of a missing student should be investigated.
“While it is within the right of the school leadership to decline media interviews, it is against the law for anyone to incite and attack journalists who were in their line of duty. We urge the police to expedite investigations into the unfortunate incident and bring the culprits to book,” said Mr Omwoyo. Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua also condemned the attack on journalists.
“I do not condone violence as an expression of anger or for any other reason. We need a country that practices peaceful ways of solving issues or expressing displeasure,” Dr Mutua said.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, on his Twitter account, condemned the incident saying the attack on journalists on duty in Machakos was an act of culpable criminality that must not only be condemned but the perpetrators also brought to book. “A threat to journalists is a threat to freedom,” he tweeted.