The Kenya Forum | Westgate mall siege scandal: authorities blame media for questions - The Kenya Forum

October 24, 2013


The Westgate mall terrorist attack is becoming a scandal. Military officials are now proposing arrest of journalists who question their behaviour during the siege.

Questions like why the place was looted and whether the looting was done by the military are the kind of questions people who put their trust in these security forces should be allowed to ask.

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Westgate mall siege scandal: authorities blame media for questions

Westgate mall siege scandal: authorities blame media for questions

Few of us know for certain what to make of all the reports that have come out during and after the Westgate siege but rest assured that Inspector General David Kimaiyo has the answer.

There are of course many questions to be answered. How many terrorists were involved? How many were killed? Were any terrorists killed? How many escaped? Who looted the mall? Did one section of the Kenya Defence Force (KDF) fire on another? Who was in charge? What were the circumstances surrounding the blowing up of the mall at the end of the ‘siege’? Was there ever really a ‘siege’?

All these questions and many more need answers but as we say, David Kimaiyo has come up with an answer at a press conference yesterday at his Jogoo House office in Nairobi, where he promised to leap into action: by arresting some of the journalists who reported the looting of the Westgate mall.


Brilliant, isn’t it? Just what we needed.

The Westgate attack was a tragedy for those who died and their families. It was a major news event around the world that damaged Kenya’s reputation and that of our security services. Serious questions need to be answered. Action needs to be taken. People should be arrested: but not journalists.


Kimaiyo announced that journalists would be prosecuted for “provoking propaganda” and inciting Kenyans against the authorities. Among those to be arrested, he said, are two investigative journalists from KTN.

It seems that Mr Kimaiyo took exception at the suggestion by KTN that he had been relieved of command during the siege. However, as the Daily Nation points out today, between Saturday September 21 and the end of the siege four days later, the military were in charge of the looting, sorry, operation.

“We know very well that every person or organization has a right to freedom of expression”, said Kimaiyo, resplendent in his uniform, “but this freedom does not extend to advocacy of hatred or propaganda”.

“You cannot provoke propaganda and incite Kenyans against the authorities”, Kimaiyo declared, “The two [KTN] journalists will be apprehended”, he explained.


Inspector General David Kimaiyo should rest assured that the Kenya Forum does not doubt his sincerity (well we do a bit but let’s leave that for a moment), it is his ability, intelligence and priorities that we call into question, and which in a free society with media freedoms guaranteed under the constitution, we have a perfect right to do.

With the Media Council (Amendment) Bill and the Kenya Information and Communications Authority Bill going through parliament at the moment (see ‘MPs to discuss media fears over threats to freedom of expression’, today’s Daily Nation), together with Kimaiyo’s outburst, freedom-loving Kenyans should be very concerned. The international media, who also covered the Westgate siege extensively, should also take note.


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