Witness says Ruto called on Kalenjin to evict non-Kalenjins from the Rift Valley

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Deputy President William Samoei Ruto called on the Kalenjin to chase away non-Kalenjins from the Rift Valley region in two separate rallies ahead of the 2007 elections.

On Friday, Witness 409 said that the first time he heard Ruto make the call was at a rally at Nandi Hills stadium. He said that the second time he heard Ruto ask the Kalenjin to evict non-Kalenjins from the Rift Valley was at a subsequent rally at Kapchorua.

The witness told the court that at each rally Ruto spoke in Swahili first and then in Kalenjin. Witness 409 said that when Ruto spoke in Swahili, he usually spoke about development issues and encouraged people to vote en bloc for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party. The witness said that it was in Kalenjin Ruto asked his fellow Kalenjin to evict Kikuyus, Kisiis, Luhyas, and Luos from the Rift Valley.

At the Nandi Hills stadium rally, the witness said that Ruto said, “Makimache ketit ne kiibu chumbek.” Witness 409 said in his understanding this meant, “We don’t want trees that were brought by the whites.” The witness explained that after the rally his interpretation of the sentence was the Kalenjin did not want non-Kalenjins in the Rift Valley.

The court does not have any Kalenjin interpreters, so Joel Bosek, a lawyer for former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang, accepted to spell out the Kalenjin words that the witness heard spoken at the rallies. Bosek spelled them out after confirming with the witness that those are the words he said. Trial lawyer Lorenzo Pugliatti then read out the Kalenjin sentences again for the witness to confirm that that is what he had heard being said at the rallies.

Witness 409 also said that Ruto told those attending the Nandi Hills stadium rally, “Makimache ometai suswek kolanda agoi got.” He said that he understood this to mean, “Don’t leave the grass to grow into your homes.” The witness said that he later understood this to be a reference to non-Kalenjins who had bought land in the Rift Valley.

The witness testified that Ruto made a third statement at the Nandi Hills stadium rally. He said Ruto said, “Kimache oai kazit komye ne kiagonin.” According to the witness, this translated to mean, “I want you to do the work we gave you in the right way.” Witness 409 said that he initially thought Ruto was talking about how they should vote. He said when the violence broke out he then concluded that because the statement had been made in Kalenjin the message was directed at the Kalenjin and was not about voting.

Witness 409 said he attended another rally at a football field in a place called Kapchorua. He said he does not remember the exact date of the rally, but it could have been two weeks after the Nandi Hills stadium rally. The witness said that Ruto repeated at the Kapchorua rally the same Kalenjin sentences he had said at the Nandi Hills stadium rally.

The witness stated that the area Member of Parliament, Henry Kosgey, spoke before Ruto at the Kapchorua rally. He said that Kosgey also spoke in Kalenjin about the trees brought by the whites, but Kosgey also added something else. The witness said Kosgey said, “Kimache kesich kelyek ab ketit.” The witness translated this to mean the trees should be uprooted.

Witness 409 said that he attended another rally at Maraba at a field in the middle of shops. He said that Kosgey attended this rally with other guests, but Ruto was not present. The witness said that Kosgey again spoke in Kalenjin of trees and grass.

The witness had just begun talking about a rally in Labuiywo when the day’s proceedings ended.

Witness 409 will continue testifying on Monday.