February 2010


Black white operations of the Kanyotu era

Story by KAMAU NGOTHO

Under Mr James Kanyotu, the State security intelligence apparatus largely operated through intrusion, torture and mysterious murders.

In the minds of ordinary citizens, the mention of what was popularly known as the Special Branch brought up images of shifty-eyed characters in smoky cellars extracting information by duress when not peeping through keyholes or staging mafia-style killings.

Barely two months after Kanyotu was appointed the Director of Intelligence in February 1965, a radical politician of Asian origin, Pio Gama Pinto, was gunned down outside his house in the city’s Westlands suburb.

Point-blank.

He was reversing outside his gate one early morning when a lone gunman appeared from nowhere and shot him at point-blank range.

Four years later, an assassin’s bullet cut short the life of Tom Mboya — a dashing politician and Cabinet minister.

He was walking out of a chemist in a crowded city street on Saturday afternoon, July 5, 1969 when he met his death.

Then in March 1975, a herdsman stumbled on a decomposing body at the foot of the scenic Ngong Hills on the outskirts of Nairobi.

It turned out to be the body of the charismatic MP for Nyandarua North, Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, popularly known as ‘JM’, who had been reported missing nine days earlier after he left a Nairobi hotel in the company of the then GSU commandant Ben Gethi.

Fifteen years down the line in February 1990, another body — this time burnt almost beyond recognition — was found by a herdsboy at the foot of Got Alila near Kisumu.

It was that of then Foreign Affairs minister Robert Ouko. He had gone missing for four days after being picked by a white car from his rural home in the wee hours of the morning.

‘Disappeared’

And in the period between 1986 and 1989, several Kenyans were reported to have “disappeared” after they were arrested by the Special Branch and taken to the infamous Nyayo House torture chambers for interrogation in connection with a shadowy outfit called Mwakenya.

Inevitably, in all the “black operations”, fingers were pointed at the institution Mr Kanyotu headed.

In two of the cases — the Ouko and JM murders — he was personally summoned to assist the investigating teams.

He ignored the summons in the case of Ouko, but helpfully cooperated in the JM matter.

In the Mboya and Pinto assassinations, there was no direct mention of the intelligence team or Mr Kanyotu, for that matter.

However, there were powerful pointers that his boys loomed large in the shadows.

In the Mwakenya affair, blood was all over Mr Kanyotu’s hands as the interrogations were conducted by his officers at Nyayo House, the then Nairobi Area Intelligence offices.

Mr Kanyotu’s baptism by fire came on February 25, 1965, hardly two months after he assumed office.

It came with the murder of leftist politician Pio Gama Pinto, a close ally and strategist for then Vice-President and later opposition doyen Jaramogi Oginga Odinga.

A self-confessed socialist, Mr Pinto had sharpened his teeth as a radical during Kenya’s fight for independence when he served as the editor of a string of nationalist newspapers and a radio station.

For his troubles, the colonialists detained him without trial for a long period.

Come independence, he identified himself with a radical camp opposed to policies pursued by the Government of the day. The group gravitated around Mr Oginga Odinga. Then somebody decided that he must die.

Early in the morning of February 25, Mr Pinto reversed his car at the gate to his residence in the city’s Westlands suburb. With him was his five-year-old daughter, who he was taking to school.

Before he could engage the forward gear, a man appeared from the corner of the fence and shouted: “Hallo, Sir!”

As he looked up to answer, three bullets hit him in the neck and chest. He slumped dead on the steering wheel.

Three weeks later, a 19-year-old unemployed youth, Kisilu Mutua, was hauled to the courts and accused of killing Mr Pinto. He denied the charge, but admitted having been within the vicinity when the radical politician was shot dead.

Kisilu’s evidence at the trial court had all the elements of a James Bond thriller.

He said he had been a pick-pocket operating at downtown Nairobi.

Police had caught and pardoned him once, but on the second instance, they offered to help him quit the world of crime by getting him a job with a man they simply called Sammy.

Sammy turned up with an interesting kind of job. He would only need him once in a while and for a specific assignment, which would change from time to time.

He helped Kisilu start a business of selling tyre rubber sandals, popularly known as akala, at Ngara Market, from where he would pick him whenever there was a job to be done.

Scare off

Kisilu’s first assignment was to scare off a certain trade-unionist who Sammy said was “joking around with the Government.”

He would drive Kisilu to the unionist’s gate in the evening and wait for the latter to arrive.

Once he showed up, Kisilu would run towards him a knife in hand, hurl a few insults at him and tell him to watch his tongue in future lest the knife ends in his chest.

The first assignment had gone off well and Sammy handsomely rewarded him, Kisilu told the court.

The next assignment would be in Westlands. He was to do the same to a certain muhindi (Indian) who too, as Sammy put it, was giving the Government some trouble.

As with the first assignment, Sammy did not tell him the name of the person and he did not bother to ask as he thought that was none of his business.

On the fateful day, Mr Kisilu told the court, he met Sammy in the company of another man he introduced as Mr Chege Thuo.

The three then got into a taxi, a blue Fiat car, and headed to the gate of their target in Westlands.

Before Kisilu could make his move as instructed, he heard a sudden burst of gun-fire and saw the Indian slump forward as blood gushed from his neck.

A few days later, Sammy got in touch with him and they agreed to meet at a secret rendezvous.

It turned out to be a trap when Kisilu found waiting policemen and Sammy nowhere in sight.

The court found Kisilu guilty and sentenced him to hang. He escaped death for life imprisonment upon appeal.

Doubtful

The court was doubtful that Kisilu was the man who pulled the trigger, but said he must be taken as an accomplice having knowingly gone to Westlands to “scare” his target, whatever the scare entailed.

However, the appeal judge, Chief Justice John Ainley, punched enough holes in the prosecution case to suggest Kisilu may just have been a scapegoat.

“The case for the Republic is that three men were present and that three men ran away from the scene of Mr Pinto’s murder,” said the Appeal judge.

“Yet it has been asked, why has the police not demonstrated the truth of their findings through further investigations?”

Kisilu was set free in 2001 after serving 35 years in jail. He still insists he was punished for a crime he never committed.

 

Courtesy of http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=39& newsid=124092

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we need to complicate the dominant discourse on martin luther king……

3 years after the watts rebellion, en exactly 1 year after MLK gave his well known speech at the Riverside church in New York, he was assassinated……..

empathetically we might ask ourselves why the dream speech has overshadowed in popular discourse, all the more complex analyses he attempted to present en for example, in the riverside speech…….

he said…my experience in the ghettoes of the north over the last 3 years, especially over the last 3 summers, as I have walked among the desperate, rejected en angry young men, I have told them that Moltov cocktails en rifles would not solve their problems, I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion, while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action,

but they asked, en rightfully so, what about vietnam?

they asked if our nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence, to solve it’s problems, to bring (home) to bring about the changes it wanted…

their questions hit home en I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettoes without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,
my own government.

for the sake of these boys,
for the sake of this government,
for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence,
I cannot be silent…

en so this was the King we were mourning, en we knew that he was considered a menace to the government, although now ofcourse he is the perhaps the most important figure in the pantheon of U.S Democracy, and as we know is praised by Progressives and Conservatives alike….

and so we decided to declare a day of mourning in Los Angeles, on April 5th….
en we had the audacity to declare a day of mourning for the entire city, en we took ourselves seriously….

without fanie lou hamer, barack obama is inconceivable, en I rarely hear that historical memory evoked in connection with what is seen as an uprecedented presidential election campaign…

but fanie lou hamer was not so much an exceptional individual, as she was a womyn who was willing to take the risk of becoming an agent en envoy of her people, en she was organically connected to all of those people who constituted the  freedom movement, many of whom ofcourse she did not know….

….need to think about what it means to build community, en how community nourishes the individual, perhaps more than the individual nourishes the community, certain insights, certain imaginations, certain aspirations en dreams elude individuals, but arise out of the ties that bind people to each other, the ties and relations that create community.

en so I like to use the term communities of struggle, or,  communities of resistance, not so much to refer to a group of individuals who bring their own individual capacities together to create a collective, I’d like to use these terms to point to something that is qualitatively different from the individual, a collective capacity that is so much more than the sum of individual capacities.

these communities of struggle produce collective subjects, the sense of community includes those whom we do not personally know, those who do not necessarily inhabit our physical communities, those who don’t necessarily live in the U.S, those who are barred from citizenship, undocumented immigrants for example…..aboriginal people, who still suffer….our community should embrace all of these peoples….

(see also the case of Ayiti, Cuba, DRC en Iraq….)

we have to be makers of the peace

right here in babylon…we need that kind of people struggle…..

its a type of flowing power…we’re jus producing more en more people..

en you know how the story goes…..

a matter for the United Nations

 a few minutes in response to Wyclef’s message at the NAACP Image Awards….brotha, much respekt to your efforts for our people.

you should(a) jus’ ask (President) Obama for resitution for Ayiti though…..if we’re get to the nitty gritty of it all…there’s the not so small matter of louisiana, en seeing as Bush & Clinton are still running a racket, you could approximate Texas into the mix……that would be some drops in the bucket 🙂

hands-on policies to solve the problems at hand….

the only sad part is that coca-cola has it’s branding all ova dis……

RBG mwisho!

reposted from mars group kenya

DESMOND TUTU AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE FIGURES CALL ON AMBASSADOR BETHUEL KIPLAGAT KENYAN TJRC CHAIR TO STEP DOWN

24.02.2010

We, former chairpersons and commissioners of truth commissions from around the world, respectfully call upon Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat, Chairperson of the Truth Justice & Reconciliation Commission’s (TJRC) to step down from his positions as Chairperson and Commissioner.

We are deeply troubled by serious allegations of bias and misconduct that have been made against Chairperson Kiplagat. The allegations about his role in the former Moi government have generated a widely held perception that he labours under an unavoidable conflict of interest and that he is unable to bring an impartial mind to bear on his important duties as TJRC Chairperson. We are advised that in previous years, a statutory Commission of Inquiry as well as a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry have made disturbing findings against Ambassador Kiplagat on matters that fall squarely within the TJRC’s mandate. The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Illegal and Irregular Allocation of Public Land (released in 2004) makes references to instances of the illegal acquisition of public land on the part of Ambassador Kiplagat. The Report of the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the Murder of Dr. Robert Ouko includes a report from an investigation team which concluded that Ambassador Kiplagat was untruthful in his submissions.

While Ambassador Kiplagat has disputed the references to him in these reports, they nonetheless have a direct and serious impact on public perceptions in relation to his fitness to hold high office in the Commission. All truth commissioners must be seen to be upholding the highest standards of ethics and integrity. They need to be seen to be scrupulously independent and objective. We are constrained to point out that Ambassador Kiplagat does not meet these essential standards.

We note that truth commissions must enjoy the confidence of the public to succeed. Since objective grounds of a reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of Ambassador Kiplagat exist in the minds of the public, he is duty bound to resign for the greater good of the commission and country. We believe that if the current state of affairs is not addressed the TJRC will not be able to deliver truth, justice and accountability for past injustices and gross human rights violations.

For these reasons we call upon Ambassador Kiplagat to immediately step down so that the TJRC may proceed with its critical tasks of promoting justice and combating impunity in Kenya.

Statement endorsed by:

Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu • Former Chairperson of the South African Truth & Reconciliation Commission • Former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town • Former General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches • Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize

Bishop Joseph Christian Humper • Former Chairperson of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission for Sierra Leone • Bishop of the United Methodist Church, Sierra Leone • Member of the General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church • Recipient of the Distinguished Peacemaker Award – Africa

Salomon Lerner Febres • Former Chairperson of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission • Former President of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru • Current President of the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at the Catholic University, Lima

Alexander Lionel Boraine • Chairperson of the Mauritian Truth & Reconciliation Commission • Former Deputy-Chairperson of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission • Chairperson of the Board of the International Centre for Transitional Justice • Former member of the South African Parliament • Former President of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa • Global Visiting Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC • Former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission • Member of the South African Judicial Services Commission • Acting Judge of the Cape High Court • Member of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur • National Chairperson of Advocates for Transformation (South Africa)

Yasmin Sooka • Former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission • Former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Sierra Leone • Former Acting Judge of the High Court of South Africa • Director of the Foundation for Human Rights

Reverend Bongani Blessing Finca • Former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission • Provincial Electoral Officer for the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

Mary Burton • Former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission • Former President of the Black Sash • Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the University of Cape Town • Recipient of National Order of Luthuli Award

Dr Fazel Randera • Former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission • Former Inspector-General of Intelligence (South Africa) • Medical Director of the Aurum Institute • Former National Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Committee

Richard Lyster • Former Commissioner of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission • Former Director, Legal Resources Centre, Durban

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