March 5, 2012


These ‘Thematic’ hearings will not reveal the murderers of Dr Robert Ouko, Pio Gama Pinto, or Josiah Mwangi Kariuki, or the identity of the “Big man” allegedly behind the assassination of Tom Mboya.

They will, instead, probe the ‘patterns’ behind them.

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TJRC to probe into Kenya’s high-profile political assassinations

TJRC to probe into Kenya’s high-profile political assassinations

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) sits today and tomorrow in Nairobi hearing testimony and statements to, ‘Identify and understand major patterns of political assassinations’.

These ‘thematic’ hearings will not reveal the murderers of Dr Robert Ouko in 1990, Pio Gama Pinto in 1965, or Josiah Mwangi Kariuki in 1975, or the identity of the “Big man” allegedly behind the assassination of  Tom Mboya in 1969, just the ‘patterns’ behind them.

The Kenya Forum just hopes that the TJRC does not fall into some of the ‘patterns’ of previous inquiries; that the media do not fall into their usual ‘pattern’ of coverage; that Kenyan ‘Civil Society’ does not go into its usual default positions and respond with its standard knee-jerk reactions.

Handling of previous inquiries fraught

The pattern of previous inquiries has been to begin the process with preconceived ideas as to the truth of the matter, to then get carried away by hearsay and testimony of the most dubious origin in support of those ideas, and thereafter to descend into a witch hunt (see Gor Sunguh’s Parliamentary Committee into the murder of Dr Robert Ouko for a prime example). The press then reports the lurid findings of the court, commission or committee without doing anything so professional as to check the facts behind the case: “We just print what we’re given”, one journalist told the Kenya Forum. Then up pop the usual names from Kenya’s ‘civil society’ representatives screeching “impunity” and darkly warning against “adversely mentioned” individuals.

As the Forum has argued before, “adversely mentioned” won’t do under our new constitutional dispensation, especially when it is just used as a term to circumvent the slight matter of not having enough evidence to convict. “We all know who did it…” will also not do: the truth is that we mostly do not know for sure “who did it” or why. Was Dr Ouko’s murder, for instance, a “political assassination”? The TJRC have presumed that it was. It might have been but then again perhaps it wasn’t.

As regular Forum readers will know, we have developed a growing interest in the murder of Dr Robert Ouko and we know from that study there is far more to it than meets the eye, and that the facts of the case tell a very different story to the one we have all had spun to us over the years.

(For access to the facts of the case, and in this case we only present that which has been conclusively decided as true through the cross-referral of written testimonials or, where available, forensic evidence, read our article ‘Murder of Robert Ouko: what really happened’)

The Forum fears, however, that the TJRC ‘thematic’ hearings will follow the same old patterns of previous inquiries. The media coverage, we fear, will suffer from the same inaccuracies and ‘civil society’ will babble incoherently, fuelled by the inadequacies of their press and judicial system, after the event. This, also, is something we have covered before. Read ‘Robert Ouko murder: irresponsible reporting overlooks case facts’.


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