Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki on Sunday, May 7 explained why politicians and members of the media were denied entry into the Shakahola mass grave site in Kilifi County.
Speaking at St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo Catholic Church in Mwanganthia Ward, Imenti Central Constituency, Meru County while commemorating the Parish’s Patron Saint feast and Family Day, Kindiki noted that anyone intending to visit the mass graves should alert security agencies beforehand with a specific reason and be accompanied by the agencies to the site.
The CS further urged the media to work with the government on the Shakahola massacre, arguing that the activities that include the exhumation of bodies from the site are in accordance with the law and some of them do not allow for exposure through the taking of photographs and videos.
“For purposes of safety, I’m telling our fellow Kenyans not to settle there because that is a mass grave site and a crime scene. We have put in place laws through a Gazette notice that Shakahola is a security operation zone, and anyone who must go there must have a specific reason to let us know and be taken there.
“We have also asked members of the media to work with us because the activities going on there are in accordance with the law and there are some photos we cannot allow to be taken,” he stated.
While defending the directive, Kindiki revealed that certain ethics bar journalists to take photos, especially of the exhumed bodies, as they may not only haunt their families but also expose the government to a number of lawsuits.
Nonetheless, he assured that the truth behind the massacre will be told to masses across the world to deter similar acts from taking place in the future.
“Medical and security ethics do not allow you, good people of the press, to go there and start filming decomposing bodies of people’s fathers, mothers, and children. We would be sued as the government, but I also want to say that the government of Kenya has nothing to hide.
“It doesn’t matter the number of bodies recovered from Shakahola. We will broadcast the truth to the world because we don’t want this tragedy to ever happen again,” he added.
On the matter of blocking political leaders, including Azimio la Umoja leader, Raila Odinga, from entering the mass graves, Kindiki revealed that the only political leaders allowed to the site are members of the parliamentary security committee.
As a result, Kindiki threatened to take action against politicians attempting to replicate Raila’s attempts, no matter whether they were on the pro-government side or the opposition side.
“To those leaders going to do politics in Shakahola, that is a security operation zone, keep off, unless you have something you want to go do there.
“I allowed the National Assembly Security Committee to access Shakahola because they are exercising their oversight mandate on the Executive, including our security agencies. They were all there; members from the government and opposition sides, we took them around…we can not have everybody going to do politics there, going to stock cheap things there,” he went on.
At the same time, the Interior CS confirmed that the exercise of exhuming bodies in the forest will resume next week on Tuesday, May 9, with 112 bodies exhumed so far.
Read: Raila Odinga Denied Entry Into Shakahola Mass Grave site
Raila was on Friday, May 5 blocked from accessing the Shakahola mass grave site in the company of Malindi Member of Parliament (MP) Amina Mnyazi and Kilifi Woman Representative Gertrude Mbeyu as well as Magarini MP, Harry Kombe.
He later defended his visit by arguing that he did not need anyone’s permission to pay a visit to the site, adding that he had initially made public his intentions to do so.
“The Shakahola incident has caught the world’s attention. I haven’t seen anywhere else where there have been reports of cults (and) the media is blocked.
“Why did the government ban the media and human rights from the ground? I don’t need anyone’s permission to get there and I had even made my visit public,” Raila protested, adding that the purpose of his visit was to condole with Kenyans who had lost relatives there.
Also Read: Raila To Sue Ruto Over Shakahola Taskforce
On Saturday, May 6, Raila threatened to sue President William Ruto for appointing a Commission of Inquiry to probe the Shakahola Massacre, alleging that he bypassed Parliament by gazetting the Commission in a Gazette Notice dated Friday, May 5, 2023.