The Westgate Mall terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya, has come and gone, but it has left a bad taste in many Kenyans’ mouths, with the media and members of the public slamming their government for the poor and amateurish handling of the incident.
Journalists, in particular investigative reporters John-Allan Namu and Mohamed Ali of KTN, who have been reporting on the aftermath of the incident have been branded ‘unpatriotic’ by the government and threatened by cops that they will be arrested and prosecuted, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports this week.
“If you are one of the people in KTN carrying out such offences, we cannot fail to come for you, we will deal with you firmly,” Kenya Police inspector general David Kimaiyo said at the press conference on Wednesday.
Kimaiyo accused the reporters of ‘provoking propaganda’ and inciting Kenyans against authorities in their coverage of the rescue operation.
Namu and Ali told CPJ that they have been targeted for The Inside Story or Jechu Pivo (in Swahili) aired on KTN Television last week Friday.
Authorities were incensed over reporting that exposed command confusion during the Westgate mall operations. The Inside Story also revealed that at least one police officer was shot and killed by the Kenyan army and CCTV footage appeared to show soldiers looting the shopping mall.
“They seem to think we maligned the military, spinning a narrative against the Kenya Defence Force, but I cannot see where these accusations are rooted in reality,” Namu was quoted in the CPJ blog as saying.
But the press is unfazed by Kimaiyo’s intimidation campaign.
“Fortunately, the Kenyan press cannot be intimidated,” CPJ said on its website.
“Kenya’s media fraternity protested loudly with the Kenya Editors’ Guild challenging the inspector general to prove his allegation of incitement and to clarify why his officers were harassing journalists in the course of their duty.”
Photo: Kenya Police inspector general David Kimaiyo speaks at the press conference mid-week. Credit: K24TV screenshot/CPJ