October 20th 2017

Media / Watchdog

When Ruto's vehicles bring death, families are muzzled and media obliges

Back in Moi's Bridge, villagers and traders were organizing a bigger demonstration to express their displeasure even as the family began plans for the late Chekomoti's interment. A small committee has been set up to raise the family's grievance with the DP personally over the death.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comThursday, 26 Jan 2017 10:32 EAT

The late Chekomoti.

Unbeknown to most Kenyans who watched news of Deputy President William Ruto being heckled in Kiminini, Trans Nzoia County, on Tuesday, some of the protesters were expressing their anger at the death earlier in the day of a trader at Moi’s Bridge trading centre who was run over by a car in the DP’s motorcade.

A car in the motorcade hit the late Tirop Chekomoti and drove off without even pausing to find out what had happened to him. A well-known trader at the market, Mr Chekomoti is reported to own a restaurant where the deputy president himself is alleged to have taken lunch some time in the past during one of his visits in the region, according to residents who briefed the Kenya Free Press.

As the deceased was being rushed to hospital, some youths at the market gave a chase in hurriedly-assembled motorbikes and cars, and although the DP's convoy was a lot more faster than theirs, they still arrived at the DP's Kiminini rally in good time to cause commotion by shouting their grievances about the accident. However, Administration Police officers from Bungoma and Trans Nzoia who had been deployed at the rally to prevent a repeat of the heckling in Bungoma a day earlier prevented them from airing their grievances.

Back in Moi's Bridge, villagers and traders at the market were organizing a bigger demonstration to express their displeasure even as the family began plans for the late Chekomoti's interment. A small organising committee has been set up at Moi's Bridge to determine how the family can raise their grievance with the DP personally over the death.

Mr Chekomoti's killing has not been reported in any media despite the fact that all the major television channels were in the region for the DP's rally. This website was informed about the killing yesterday, and obtained the above photograph of the late from a family source. But such is the fear in the family that none of them was ready to speak to us on the record.

One of Kenya's most energetic politicians, Mr Ruto holds several meetings around the country each month, and a source in his office told this website that the DP has been confronted with nearly ten cases of families demanding compensation for people injured or killed by cars in his motorcade. Some of these cases have been well publicised, such as the September 2014 accident on the Eldoret-Nakuru highway involving his motorcade where three people, among them two public servants in the official motorcade, lost their lives.

Mostly, victims of the accidents are left to suffer in anonymity, and the media have on some occasions been forced to retract articles linking Mr Ruto to other traffic accidents. A case in point happened five weeks ago where a public service vehicle killed a minor in the capital city. Ghetto Radio aired a story indicating that the matatu mini bus involved in the accident was owned by a son of the deputy president’s and carried the report on their website. The very next day, according to a source at the station, they received a call from a senior government official instructing them to pull down the article or face unstated consequences. The station obliged, pulled down the article and wrote a generous apology.

“In light of this, we wish to express our sincere regret for a story that was done to suggest that the public service vehicle that caused the death of a minor during the Nganya awards belonged to the Deputy President’s son. We still wish to apologise to the DP’s son for any harm caused to his image and name. We at Ghetto Radio are believers of a sane fourth estate that is credible, professional and factual,” the apology reads in part.

To date, the group’s website carries the apology for a story that no longer exists on the site. Our source at the station informed us that a senior traffic police officer had given them the information about the matatu's ownership in confidence, and the apology was written to avoid problems with the government.

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