Arrest and Misapprehension: How the Kenyan Police Got it Wrong
After months of preparation, the InformAction (IFA) Kericho & Kisumu Field Teams and the Lelaitich community, led by their CAT (Community Action Team), arranged a protest on the 15th & 16th May 2018. The community planned a peaceful march to present their petition to the County government officials. They marched 30km over two days.
The residents in this area, 148 families, were settled on the Lelaitich Farm in 2012 after they were evicted from the Mau (Tinet) forest in 2009. The farm is situated in Kapchepwai location, Soin ward, and Soin-Sigowet constituency of Kericho County.
When the resident were re settled at Lelaitich the Ministry of Special Programmes/ National Government promised the following: Title Deeds for the land, drilled water, a primary school, a health centre, a police post and 35,000 kshs each in compensation. However the promises were never delivered to the residents.
When the IFA team visited Lelaitich Farm in 2017, the residents explained about their situations, and after numerous screenings and meetings, a CAT was formed to spearhead their issues. IFA worked with the CAT to draw up petitions to the County Government, the Kericho County Assembly and the National Government. However the petitions and meetings were not successful and the residents started to think of alternative ways to engage with government officials. After the residents watched the film ‘How to do a successful community action’ they decided they were ready for a demonstration to push for their rights.A CAT was formed with strong leadership and the primary issues pinpointed were the lack of title deeds and the lack of water.
Countdown to the demo
Two weeks before the demo date a series of meetings were held between IFA and the CAT to plan and strategies for the demo, as well as discuss with those opposed to the demo.
The Officer in Charge of the Police Station (OCS) was then issued with a notification of the peaceful protest. He was cooperative and the signed notice of intention to hold public processions was issued. The Office of the Governor and the Office of the County Commissioner were notified along with the Kapsoit and Sipsitet police stations. Health officials in Kericho County were then informed, as well as the Red Cross so they would be able to provide first aid during the demonstration, if required.
The protestors set off on the march early morning on the 15th May 2018. Everything was going smoothly until the Deputy Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) of Kericho, Mr Nathan Sanya attempted to stop the protestors near Kapsoit town. After a discussion between IFA and the Deputy OCPD the protestors were permitted to proceed to the next stop, Telanet ACK Church. The Deputy OCPD requested that the IFA team and the CAT leaders accompany him to the County Commissioners Office in Kericho town. However, when the protestors refused, Mr Tirop Kitur, Daniel Owino & Pastor Philemon Rotich from Telanet were arrested, with Tirop being manhandled by the police. Later the leaders were released from Kericho police station and have lodged an official complaint for the mistreatment.
The second day of the demonstration went ahead smoothly and peacefully. The Lelaitich demonstrators were able to present their petition to both the Deputy Governor of Kericho County, Suzan Kikwai, and to the Kericho County Commissioner, Mr Mukdar Abdi.