August 23rd 2017

Top Stories / Counties

Kabarnet High closed after students, police clash

Kabarnet High School, one of the top boys schools in Baringo County, has been closed indefinitely after student unrest

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 14 Jun 2016 08:41 EAT

Kabarnet High School, one of the top boys schools in Baringo County, has been closed indefinitely after student unrest.

Over 900 students were sent home Sunday after a demonstration occasioned by the death of a form four student, Peter Kemboi, 17, who drowned in a septic tank on Saturday evening. Immediately upon learning of the death on Saturday evening, students marched within the school.

By around 7pm Saturday, when the deceased’s body was being transferred to the Baringo County Hospital mortuary in Kabarnet town, many students joined in the procession, raising tensions in the usually calm neighbourhood.

Given the darkness, a number of students sustained injuries and were rushed to hospital. The school could not determine whether all students returned to their compound after the demos, and a Sunday morning roll call could not proceed as the students became rowdy and uncooperative.

Police officers from the nearby Kabarnet station called in to disperse the riotous students only added to the commotion by throwing teargas into the student dormitories and classes. As the students scampered for safety, some of them vented their anger on school buildings.

A number of window panes were shattered, as was the entertainment television set and the school gate. Business activities in Kabarnet Town were also affected as traders closed their shops fearing looting by the irate students.

Students who spoke to the Free Press said the administration and local government authorities did not respond quickly to Kemboi’s fate, saying he would have been saved. “The county disaster response department took too long to save Kemboi’s life. We noted that he had been missing for two hours before the administration even started looking  for him,” said one student who preferred not to be identified.

The students also accused the police of using excessive force in dispersing their protest. “It was very wrong what they did. We were demonstrating peacefully, mourning our colleague, then all of a sudden the police come in to disperse us by force and throwing teargas everywhere,” another student said.

Baringo police commander Peter Ndungu, however, suggested the student’s death was premeditated and there was not much the administration could have done. He claimed Kemboi had left a suicide note but he did not reveal what the note contained. The Free Press couldn’t independently verify this information.

Moments after the students dispersed, the school board of management held a meeting behind closed doors and decided to close the institution indefinitely. Principal Julius Mambili refused to talk to the media on events leading to the closure.

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