Taita Taveta, Kwale security agencies shielding human rights violators, KNCHR told

KNCHR chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori (centre) and Mombasa KNCHR human rights officer Maureen Mwadime console Bertina Wanjala (right) outside Kasigau social hall as she was overcome with emotions after testifying before an inquiry by the commission to investigate human rights violations claims in the mining zones in Taita Taveta County. PHOTO | LUCY MKANYIKA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Addressing commissioners at the inquiry sitting at Kasigau Social Hall in Voi sub county on Thursday, Mr Herman Mole, said police tortured him and his two colleagues at a mine in Kuranze ranch after they were reportedly sent by his neighbour last year.
  • Some of the victims who testified before the ongoing Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) public inquiry into allegations of human rights violations in Taita Taveta County mines, said they were tortured and harassed by police sent by foreign powerful investors to remove them from their sites.

Security agencies in Taita Taveta and Kwale Counties have been accused of siding with investors who violate human rights in the region’s mining zones.

Some of the victims who testified before the ongoing Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) public inquiry into allegations of human rights violations in Taita Taveta County mines, said they were tortured and harassed by police sent by foreign powerful investors to remove them from their sites.

Addressing commissioners at the inquiry sitting at Kasigau Social Hall in Voi sub-County on Thursday, Mr Herman Mole, said police tortured him and his two colleagues at a mine in Kuranze Ranch after they were reportedly sent by his neighbour last year.

“My neighbour realised that I had discovered minerals at our site and he became jealous. He then sent police to torture us. They then arrested and took us to Kwale police station,” he narrated.

He said two Administration Police officers and a Kenya Wildlife Service officer tied up his colleague and brutally tortured him at their accuser’s compound.

“He even threatened to shoot us after I protested why they were beating us up,” he said.

Mr Mole said he was later taken to Kwale Law Courts and charged with illegal mining but was later acquitted.

He said his neighbour had been taking advantage of his influence in government to deprive them of their rights.

“The court dismissed the case because I had my licences but they were not updated. I was then fined Sh15,000 for failing to renew my licences on time,” he said.

KNCHR commissioners urged the county government to conduct civic education on mining law in the area.

The commission’s vice chairperson, Mr George Morara, noted locals were not benefitting from the sector due to exploitation by foreign investors.

“The county government needs to educate residents about the mining law,” he said.

The commission’s chairperson, Kagwiria Mbogori said it was evident that some of the locals engaging in mining activities were ignorant of their rights.

“Some miners are even using their prospecting licences to mine which is illegal,” she said.

She urged residents to consider Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms to end conflicts with miners for them to benefit from minerals.

“If mining stops then you will not benefit from this resource. We will guide you to seek alternative ways of solving your wrangles for mining to resume,” she told victims.

Wrangles between locals and investors have disrupted mining activities in many mining zones in the county.

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