Witness says Ruto and Kosgey repeated calls to evict non-Kalenjins from the Rift Valley

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and a former cabinet minister repeatedly called on their fellow Kalenjin to chase away non-Kalenjins from the Rift Valley.

Witness 409 said Ruto repeated his call at a rally at Meteitei during which former cabinet minister Henry Kosgey also spoke. The witness said Kosgey made a similar call at a rally at Labuiywo, which Ruto did not attend.

The witness said that the Meteitei rally was the last one he attended before the December 2007 elections. He said it was held close to voting day.

Kosgey spoke before Ruto and told  the crowd in Swahili that he was the chairman of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), so they should vote for the party in the elections, said the witness. He said Kosgey promised that if the party won the 2007 election he would ensure the Meteitei road is rebuilt because it was in bad condition. The witness also said Kosgey promised to build a hospital in the area.

Witness 409 said that Kosgey then ended his speech at the Meteitei rally speaking in Kalenjin and repeating what he had said at previous rallies. The witness said that Kosgey told the crowd in Kalenjin, “Kimache kesich kelyek ab ketit,” which he translated to mean “we should uproot the trees.” The witness had explained in previous testimony he understood the trees to mean non-Kalenjins, who first came to work for the British who lived in the Rift Valley and then later stayed on.

The witness also said that Kosgey told the crowd in Kalenjin, “Makimache ngoroik aeng.” He translated this directly to mean, “We don’t want two clothes.” He had explained in earlier testimony that he had understood this to mean that there should only be Kalenjins in the Rift Valley.

Ruto was the last person to speak at the Meteitei rally, said the witness. He said that Ruto first addressed the crowd in Swahili, asking them to vote for the ODM party. He said that Ruto later switched to Kalenjin and said, “Kimache oai kazit ne kiagonin.” The witness translated this to mean, “I want you to do the work I told you.”

In earlier testimony Witness 409 said he initially thought Ruto was re-emphasizing his call on people to vote for ODM, but he later concluded it meant something different when the violence broke out after the 2007 election.

The witness said that Ruto also told the crowd, “Makimache ketit ne kiipu chumbek,” which he translated to mean, “We don’t want the trees that were brought by the whites.” He then said that Ruto told the crowd in Kalenjin, “Kimache kesich kelyek ab ketit,” which he translated to mean, “We want you to uproot the trees.”

The witness also said Ruto told the crowd in Kalenjin, “Makimache ometai suswek kolanda agoi got,” which he translated to mean, “You should not let the grass spread into your homes.” In earlier testimony the witness had explained that he understood the grass to be a reference to non-Kalenjins in the Rift Valley.

Witness 409 also told the court that Ruto said in Kalenjin at the Meteitei rally, “Makimache ngoroik aeng,” which he translated directly to mean, “We don’t want two clothes.”

Prosecution lawyer Lorenzo Pugliatti later asked Witness 409 what happened to him and his family after voting day in December 2007. Pugliatti asked some of his questions in private session. In the open session, the witness told the court that he was among a group of non-Kalenjin who sought refuge in a school when the violence broke out. He said the men remained outdoors while the women and children hid inside the school.

Witness 409 testified that this was at night and in the distance he could see beams of light from flashlights and heard men singing songs normally sang during initiation ceremonies for boys being welcomed to manhood. The witness said that at the time there were no circumcision or initiation ceremonies because they had already been held in August that year. He said the decision was made to hold the initiation ceremonies in August 2007 because the elections were scheduled for December. The witness also said he heard people shouting war cries.

The lawyer for victims, Wilfred Nderitu, began questioning Witness 409 on Monday, but most of his questions were asked in private session.

Witness 409 will continue testifying on Tuesday.