Maandamano: Day of attacks and hostility against local, foreign journalists

azimio raila protests kibra

A demonstrator uses a slingshot to throw a stone at police officers  in Nairobi, Kenya on March 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Luis Tato | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Some of the places where journalists reported being attacked are Kawangware, Mathare, the Nairobi city centre and former President Uhuru Kenyatta's Northlands farm, which was invaded by goons.
  • Reporters say they faced hostility from both rowdy goons and police officers.
  • There were no reported incidents of attacks on journalists during last week's demos. 

On Monday, journalists covering protests called by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga found themselves becoming part of the story after they were attacked by hooligans and police in different areas.

The demos were the second, coming after the former Prime Minister led the first last Monday, and are in defiance of the government, led by President William Ruto, who is currently in Germany and has left his deputy Rigathi Gachagua in charge.    

Some of the places where journalists reported being attacked are Kawangware, Mathare, the Nairobi city centre and former President Uhuru Kenyatta's Northlands farm, which had been invaded by goons.

Reporters say they faced hostility from both rowdy crowds and police officers, who said they "do not want to see cameras" as they went about their activities. 

Today's attacks are a marked departure from last week, when local and international journalists did not report any incidents.

Here are 10 confirmed incidents from today:  

1. (Just before 8am) - An NTV journalist reported being asked by police in the Nairobi city centre to delete photos from her phone. When the reporter explained that she was with the media and presented a press card as proof, the officer grabbed the card and destroyed it. 

2. Also in the morning, another NTV reporter ran into trouble with police officers at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) after they said they did not want the media around. The reporter quickly walked away before the situation could escalate.

3. (Mid-morning) - Citizen TV reporters came under attack from a knife-wielding gang in Kibra, Nairobi. Some of them lost phones, wallets and other valuables. Citizen TV reporter Seth Olale reported that one of his colleagues was beaten and their vehicle was damaged.

“We have been attacked. Journalists attacked in Kibra: RMS reporter beaten.”

4. Also in Kibra, a Nation.Africa journalist reported seeing a female Asian reporter being attacked by goons. They took her camera, phone and passport, among other valuables. It's not clear which media house the reporter is affiliated with. 

5. Winnie Chepkemoi, Nation.Africa's correspondent in Kericho, was attacked by goons in Kapsoit on the Kericho-Kisumu as she was heading to Sondu to investigate reports of clashes. Goons had barricaded the road and were stopping motorists while demanding to see their IDs. She says when they saw her microphone, they began to rain blows on her. Ms Chepkemoi is currently receiving treatment in hospital.

6. Nation.Africa and NTV journalists travelling in the same vehicle reported that a tear gas cannister was fired directly into their vehicle while covering the protests in Kibra. Unable to breathe, they were forced to step out of the vehicle until the fumes dissipated. 

7. Africa Uncensored co-founder John Allan Namu reported that two of his colleagues were arrested by the police in Mathare while covering developments in the area. They were later released. 

8. Nation reporter Steve Otieno was roughed up by a machete-wielding gang of looters that had invaded a farm owned by the Kenyatta family in Kamakis, on the Eastern Bypass. Later, a camera crew from NTV that went to the area to cover the looting also suffered the same fate. Their vehicle was stoned by the violent looters.

stone pelted journalists ntv northlands

One of the stones that attackers pelted at an NTV vehicle at Northlands City, Eastern Bypass on March 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

9. (Around 2.30pm) - Unlike last Monday when police would ask journalists to move away when they were about to lob tear gas, in Kawangware, police hurled tear gas directly at journalists. Nation reporter Jackline Macharia, reported that the attitude from police today was a marked shift:

"Even when we identified ourselves as press, they still went ahead and hurled tear gas at us," she said.  

Separately, on Processional Way at around midday, NTV reporter Hellen Aura said she witnessed hostility from security agents, adding that a police officer told her: "Hata kama sijawahai tumia fujo kwa wanawake, leo nitatumia na wewe (I've never used force on a woman but today I'll use it against you)."

She was not hurt in the encounter. 

10. A freelance journalist, who does not want to be named due to fears over his safety, told Nation.Africa that he was attacked by goons in Kibra this morning. He was injured in the attack. He lost two cameras and two phones during the incident. 

Follow our live updates from today's protests here.

Read our other coverage of the protests below.