A former District Commissioner for Naivasha District, one of the places affected by the post-elections violence in Kenya today took the stand to testify as a defense witness for the head of Kenya’s Public Service, Francis K. Muthaura.
Mr. Lucas K. Mwanza was posted as District Commission to Naivasha in 2006 and stayed there till March 2008 when he was posted to another District. Mr. Mwanza was head of the civil administration in Naivasha District when violence broke out in Kenya after the announcement of presidential elections results in late December 2007. Prosecutors say that Mr. Muthaura, along with the other two suspects, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former Police Commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali, bear responsibility for alleged attacks carried out in Naivasha and Nakuru by members of the Mungiki organization against supporters of the Orange Democratic Movement, comprising mainly of the Luo, Luhya, and Kelenjin ethnic groups.
Prosecutors say that when the Mungiki carried out their attacks, Mr. Ali, acting on orders from Mr. Muthaura, ordered the police not to stand in the way of the as they allegedly perpetrated very serious crimes including murder, rape, forcible transfer of populations, persecution, and other inhumane acts against various ethnic groups in Naivasha and Nakuru.
In his testimony before Pre-Trial II Chamber judges today, Mr. Mwanza, who was head of the civil administration of Naivasha said no such orders to ignore crimes committed by Mungiki were issued. Mr. Mwanza said that the post-election violence hit Naivasha on January 27, 2008, and he was able to work with the police to curb the violence. If the police did not take any action to stop the violence, there would have been mass murder in Naivasha, Mr. Mwanza told the judges.
Mr. Mwanza said that the police were able to carry out arrests of various youths involved in the violence while the Kenyan army and air force also helped to address the situation.
Prosecutors say that the Kenyan police gave a free zone to Mungiki members as well as mostly Kikuyu youths who attacked members of the other tribes perceived to be ODM supporters. Prosecutors have further alleged that Mungiki youths were allowed to wear police uniforms as they embarked on the commission of serious crimes. This, Mr. Mwanza said was never the case.
“I did not see any youths wearing police uniforms and if I had seen them, I would have arrested them because it is against the law,” Mr. Mwanza told the court.
On the allegation that Mungiki were ferried into Naivasha to attack perceived ODM supporters, the witness said this did not happen. The witness said he would have received the intelligence report if that had ever happened.
Asked whether he received any orders to grant free zone to the Mungiki youths in their operations in Naivasha, the witness said he received no such orders. He added that even if such orders had been issued to him, he would not have stood aside to see Kenyans committing crimes against each other.
The witness denied prosecution allegations that the violence that erupted in Naivasha was planned by politicians in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. The violence, the witness said, was spontaneous and it last only for a full day in Naivasha, January 27, 2008. The witness said as Chairman of the District Security and Intelligence Committee (DCIC), he did not hear from any persons that there was an impending violence that he should prepare for.
Mr. Muthaura’s defense counsel Essa Fall read a portion of a statement made by a prosecution witness that before the violence, there were rumors of various groups planning to attack each other. However, Mr. Mwanza told the judges today that such rumors were never brought to her attention. When the Presiding Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova, later put to the witness that he testified to the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Elections Violence (CIPEV) in Kenya that he received intelligence of a planned demonstration, the witness explained that there are “two types of intelligence” one is obtained by formal means while the other is based on mere rumors. The latter is what the witness received, he told the court today.
During cross-examination, prosecutors put to the witness that the Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) in the Naivasha District had made a statement to the CIPEV that there were intelligence reports of a likely attack on “upcountry people” in Naivasha. The witness said he never received any such intelligence. He explained that on January 9, they increased security patrols in Naivasha but this followed an influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from other places into Naivasha.
Explaining the casualty rate in Naivasha, the witness said that about 42 to 50 people were killed during the violence in that district. Nineteen of these died by fire while some were shot by police. Four people died by gun shot wounds, the witness said.
Under cross-examination by the Common Legal Representative for Victims, the witness said that the 19 people who died by fire were burned inside a house that belonged to a Luo. He said that he suspected that the perpetrators were Kikuyus. Some people died from gun shots fired by police. These gun shots, the witness said, were only meant to scare the trouble causers but because of human error, the police killed some civilians.
As he concluded his testimony, the witness said that he had not come to defend any specific individual but rather to say the truth of what obtained in Kenya. He added that he had no personal relationship with Mr. Muthaura. He had never met him personally, he said.
Mr. Muthaura’s second witness will testify on Tuesday.