Saturday, January 16, 2010
Deadly Police killers Part 2
Deadly Police killers Part 2
The Kenya police has a long history of being brutal and when one examines the very beginnings of the force it all begins to make more sense.
Press reports in Kenya have always maintained that Ali was the very first military man to be appointed police commissioner. This is NOT true. The very first commissioner of police was a soldier (Brig.Gen.F.S. Edward who served from 1908 to 1922). In fact as early as 1909 Edward himself noted that the military element had been promoted at the expense of police training, as a result of which a training depot was established in Nairobi in 1911 together with a small fingerprint section.
But perhaps the peak of brutality for the “Kinya” police (as the colonialists pronounced it) was during the emergency. The first thing that the colonial government did to deal with the Mau mau menace was to greatly expand the numbers in the force. Now you know where one Mwai Kibaki may have gotten his idea of how to easily deal with escalating crime when he took over power in 2003. The other thing they did was to stop playing things by the book. In other words this meant untold brutality torture and killing of many innocent people. This tactic was quite effective in snuffing out the Mau mau rebellion. And again now you know where the Kibaki administration may have gotten the idea of not playing things by the book of which Maj Gen Ali’s appointment as police commissioner was key.
There was a honeymoon period for the police when Kenya gained her independence in 1963. The injustices in the police that happened over this period were mainly to do with appointments. A handful of very able men including an excellent Luo officer were overlooked for the post of police commissioner in favour of a Kikuyu man who was hurriedly transferred from the Special branch called Bernard Hinga. You have to realize that until independence very few and carefully selected Kikuyus were recruited into the police or any armed force in the country. This is because they were mainly considered to be disloyal and unpredictable. Kambas were greatly favoured followed by other tribes like the Luo. So considering the numbers alone the chances of a kikuyu being the first commissioner of police were very slim indeed.
But even more instructive was the man appointed to take Bernard Hinga’s place at the Special Branch. His name was James Kanyotu.
Evidence that I have gathered seems to suggest that as 1964 came to a close the Kenyatta government had come to the realization that the celebratory honeymoon was over and they needed to put their house in order. Alarming developments in other African countries like frequent coups, including neighbouring Zanzibar (where there was a bloody revolution engineered by a Ugandan policeman) quickly caused paranoia in the Kenyatta administration and pushed security of the state to the top of the government’s priority list. What security of the state meant was really security of the president and indeed the very survival of his government.
The result was that all enemies, real and imagined, had to be identified and dealt with long before they made their moves. Bernard Hinga headed the special branch until the end of 1964 and at the time this police department mainly gathered and analyzed information and there were no “executions” as such carried out.
Advisors to the Kenyatta administration pointed out that even developed countries like Great Britain and the United States had state security organs that dealt with threats viciously and the young Kenyan administration could not pretend that such an arrangement was not necessary in these shores.
It is very telling that barely within two months of the appointment of James Kanyotu in February 1965, the first “police execution” took place. Pio Gama Pinto was reversing from his house when a lone gun man appeared from nowhere and shot him dead.
How was Pinto a threat to national security?
Many local writers have speculated that his leanings towards communism were the reason. Actually the real reason was that courageous Pinto had actually confronted the President at parliament buildings a few weeks earlier over his personal land grabbing and the corrupt ways of his government. Eyewitnesses say that Kenyatta retorted by calling Pinto a bastard and without thinking Pinto told the head of state that he too was a bastard. Everybody who was there was stunned. It is likely that Kanyotu felt that if Pinto was allowed a little room he would develop a formidable opposition to the Kenyatta government. In fact Pinto had been Kenyatta’s fund raiser at the most difficult time of the latter’s political career and there were few political fundraisers at the time that were as effective as Pinto. This is closer to the truth as to why Kanyotu gave the order for Pinto’s life to be terminated.
As I have said before in this blog, Pinto’s assassination and Tom Mboya’s killing 4 years later had a lot of uncanny similarities that point directly to the police, or rather the secret arm of the police being responsible. However there was one big difference. Kanyotu was an impeccable man who carefully covered his tracks and only started making serious mistakes many years later, late into the Moi administration and even then his mistakes were very few. Kanyotu must have noted that in the Pinto assassination a man who was not a police officer was used and it became clear that there were many problems with this approach including possible leakages later. And that is why I tend to believe information made available to me that the man who actually pulled the trigger to end Mboya’s life was in fact a police officer. The late Ben Gethi. The man later arrested for the murder Nahashon Njenga, a Kanu activist and youth winger who was personally known to Mboya, had an uncanny resemblance to Gethi.
All the assassinations done during the Kenyatta era were carried out by the Special branch and with the knowledge and nod from the director of intelligence James Kanyotu himself. Now when the Moi era commenced, there was again a honeymoon period where all political detainees were released and police executions stopped. It seems that while Moi still received regular briefings from his intelligence chief James Kanyotu, he shied away from authorizing killings. To Moi’s credit, even after the 1982 coup he favored detention without trial to killings. He was probably still too disgusted at what he had seen during the Kenyatta era. Even the Ouko murder was not really ordered but was rather a spontaneous thing that happened in the heat of the moment although the Special branch was used to track the foreign minister’s every move and to later to help cover up the murder.
You must also remember that it was during the Moi era that the Special branch was abolished and replaced by the National Security Intelligence Services (NSIS) which unlike the special branch has no legal arresting powers. Actually its’ predecessor, the special branch thrived on the arrest and brutal torture of its’ subjects to verify and get information. It is for this reason that many old hands wondered how the new NSIS would work.
This is very important to keep in mind because the Kibaki administration met this kind of arrangement when he took over office in 2003.
To be continued
Invitation to all illegal immigrants in Africa (ad sponsored by Kumekucha)
Are you interested in living in a foreign country illegally without any headaches? Then Kenya has to be your country of choice. Come to Kenya where you can immediately start pretending to be Kenyan and even cause all the chaos and trouble you want without fearing deportation. Those who enjoy throwing stones at policemen are especially invited for a helluva time with the Kenya riot police who rarely fire back with live ammunition like some of you are already used to in good old Wild West Mogadishu and other non-nonsense African countries. Live at your leisure without any papers or visa worries. Buy property anywhere you want and even right in the middle of Nairobi CBD. Yes, you don’t believe it? I challenge you to come to Kenya and see for yourself. You certainly can’t do it in Tanzania, Uganda or even Sudan. In fact you can’t do it anywhere else in the world. But in Kenya anything is possible for illegal immigrants. The only papers you need are lots of liquid cash to smooth over any slight problems that may occur mostly from hungry immigration officers and policemen. Somalis are especially invited to see a capital city within a capital city called Eastleigh “little Mogadishu” that is better than Mogadishu itself (before it was bombed up and all) and where 99.9% of the population is made up of Somali nationals. And where you can get a forged passport to travel to any part of the world. Rush now, it is already getting very crowded.
Advertisement issued by Kumekucha in the human rights interests of settling Africans and illegal immigrants trapped all over the world who are keen on living in a foreign country illegally but safe from arrest or any harassment (in fact you are the one who is free to harass the citizens of your host country yourself).
N.B. If you have no passport to cross the border into Kenya, don’t worry, ready cash will do.
Previous weekend special
Posted by Chris at 11:32 AM