17 August 2018

Kenya: Boinnet Orders Probe Into Assault of Nation Journalists

The Inspector General of Police has ordered "immediate investigations" into assault of two Nation journalists as they covered a beach land grab near in Shanzu, Mombasa, on Thursday.

Inspector-General Joseph Boinnet on Friday told the Nation that the inquiry would culminate into action against the officers involved.

"We want to know who was on the wrong-- whether it was our officers, the journalists, the contractors or the askaris then further action can be taken. As of now, we do not know anything," he said.

The journalists, Mr Laban Walloga and Mr Karim Rajan were arrested as they filed and took photos of a hotel that is being erected on the grabbed parcel.

UPROAR

Their detention at Bamburi Police Station on "orders of a top government official" caused uproar and condemnation as questions emerged on the ownership of the property.

They were released later in the evening after complaints by human and media rights organisations.

Nation Media Group board chairman Wilfred Kiboro on Friday condemned the attack.

"The public should feel outraged on the level on impunity witnessed yesterday with attack and arrest of Nation Media Group journalists," Dr Kiboro said during an investor briefing in Nairobi.

The Nation was trying to piece together ownership of the property formerly known as Dolphin Hotel, located near Pride Inn Flamingo Resort in Shanzu, Mombasa.

The hotel has previously been linked to Deputy President William Ruto, but his spokesman David Mugonyi declined to comment on the matter. Mr Ruto was also not available for comment.

The Nation found an excavator reclaiming part of the beach as construction continued a few metres away.

ERASE FOOTAGE

Security personnel at the site, however, forced Mr Karim, a videographer at NTV, to erase all his footage before bundling the two into a car and driving them away to the police station.

Human rights activists and residents have for months raised alarm over the encroachment, saying it has blocked the public from accessing the beach.

"We now have to walk in water during high tide," said a resident who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

"Why this impunity by a developer who appears untouchable?"

In 2016 the county government of Mombasa stopped the construction after neighbours complained that the contractor was dumping debris on a public road.

On Thursday, the Nation witnessed an excavator filling part of the beach where the hotel stands, in contravention of the law regarding use of public beaches and the distance required between the beach and private properties.

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