By The Editor
Armed policemen in Loitokitok on Saturday bullied journalists in a bid to stop them from covering the interception of illicit13,500 litres of ethanol from Tanzania.
This was after their attempt to seal a deal with a suspect, known to them, backfired on their faces following a tip-off from their fellow officer who smelt a rat over how the matter was worked out.
Kajiado County News reporter, Philip Tianda and a passenger were molested, bundled out of the company car and had their cameras and phones confiscated even after they identified themselves.
They argued that the Police station, where a deal would have been sealed, was a high-security area where civilians and cameras are not allowed.
None of the two had taken any photographs of what was happening at the police station but were preparing to alight.
Kajiado County News Editor, Kurgat Marindany, who was also present after completing a working tour of the Sub County, had his identification badge briefly taken away before the area deputy OCS “ironed” out a stalemate between the journalists and the police.
They returned the confiscated phones after Marindany implored them to do so unconditionally.
Information had earlier leaked to the media that some DCI officers had intercepted two trucks from TZ on Saturday with 13,500 litres of Ethanol and that a culprit known to the officers had been “arrested”.
The ethanol was packaged in 54, 250-litre plastic drums, and concealed in rice husks and watermelon.
The journalists were later allowed to take pictures of the ethanol, but would not allow the suspect to observe the process for fear she would be photographed.
The suspect, a senior police officer in Loitokitok, said, has a longstanding and “working relationship” with the local police until a senior police officer was transferred recently from the area.
But when contacted, the officer claimed it was true he had a relation with her but did not know she was involved in “cross-border rackets”.
“What I did was that I told her to stop trading on illicit drinks that do not have the approval of the government. That is all. She was my friend but I did not know she was involved in illegal trade,” said the officer from his new station.
The officer said those accusing him among the officers are known culprits, “who have been eating from the woman. One of them from Kimana has been pocketing more than Sh60,000 in bribes”.
“I have reported him but he seems to have godfathers somewhere. He is scandalous and by him thinking he will bring down my name, he is mistaken because I stand for the truth,” said the senior official.
The area deputy county commissioner, Lawrence Kinyua also arrived at Loitokitok police station and had a briefing from the local OCS and deputy OCPD.
The suspect, our informers said, has a chain of alcoholic drinks across Kimana Town in Kajiado sub-County.
She had also been arrested last week over an alcoholic related case and arraigned before she was fined Sh50, 000.
Away from drama
The intercepted 13,500 litres of ethanol has a tax value of more than Sh4.15 million at the Kenya-Tanzania border in Loitokitok.
One drum of 250 litres sells at Sh84, 000 in the black market, and has the capacity to intoxicate all the residents who take alcohol in all towns in Kajiado South Sub-county, Emali and Sultan Hamud towns combined for one week, according to brewer experts.
The sleuths from the Department of Criminal Investigations led by their newly posted boss, IP David Wanjama, intercepted two trucks at an illegal border entry.
Drivers of trucks and a prominent Kimana town businessman woman with alcoholic outlets chain in Kajiado South sub-county and outside were arrested and locked up at Loitokitok police station.
The consignment, packaged in fifty-four 250-litre plastic containers, was concealed under rice husks and melons aboard the trucks headed to the Kenyan side from Tanzania.
The Revenue Authority officials called in from the Illasit border control, the official exit/entry point, said documents on the said trucks indicated they left the country to Tanzania on Friday, November 15.
“Officially, as per our records, these trucks are supposed to be in Tanzania and have not been cleared back to the country,” said an official at Loitokitok police.
Police were forced to hire labourers to download the tons of sweet melons and rice husks that had been used to conceal the drums carrying ethanol.
One senior police officer who spoke to KCN at the scene said rice husks are used to conceal any spell of leaked ethanol while on transit.
Had the consignment found its way into Kenya, according to KRA officials, the government stood to lose more than Sh2.83 million in excise duty and close to Sh1.32 million in customs taxes.
This brings the total revenue that the Government stood to lose to Sh4.15 million.
KRA in partnership with law enforcement agencies has initiated investigations to determine the actual source of the consignment and the intended destination within the country.
Those arrested, the police said, would be arraigned on Monday in Loitokitok Law Court.
Present at the police station was the local deputy county commissioner Lawrence Kinyua. The area OCPD, Robert Muli was away during the interception.
Earlier, when media representatives in Loitokitok got wind of the arrest and interception of the ethanol, journalists rushed to the police station but received a rude shock when their phones and cameras were confiscated by armed policemen.
Before the journalists could alight from their car, police officers in civilian clothes led by IP Wanjama arm-twisted and pulled out of the car a local journalist from County News, Philip Tianda, even after he produced his identification card.
“Even if you are journalists, you are not allowed to enter a police station without asking for permission. Who sent you here,” Wanjama said as he confiscated Tianda’s cameras and phone.
When the other journalists protested, the officers demanded they should first seek permission from the OCPD, who was said to be away.
Another senior officer (Police Inspector) from Loitokitok later claimed the reason why the journalists were being chased away was that they wanted to negotiate with the accused.
“I was tipping you about the arrest, I knew this issues would have been concealed. This woman (the owner of the two trucks intercepted) has had long relations with our bosses and it was their (officers) time to reap,” said the officer.