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Detectives question teachers over tragedy that killed 15 Kakamega pupils

By Douglas Dindi
Saturday, February 15th, 2020
A requiem for the 13 pupils who perished in a stampede accident at Kakamega Primary School PHOTO/PD FILE
In summary
    • So far, 16 teachers at the school have recorded statements as investigators prepare to move to the next stage where they are expected to record statements from the pupils, parents and other witnesses.

Detectives are seeking to establish why teachers at Kakamega Primary School had reserved one of the staircases in the building for themselves.

Police are contemplating charging the school authorities with negligence of duty.

The detectives, following leads into the stampede that led to the death of 15 pupils, say the more than 3,000 pupils had been restricted to use one of the two staircases in the building while the 50 teachers had reserved themselves the other.

So far, 16 teachers at the school have recorded statements as investigators prepare to move to the next stage where they are expected to record statements from the pupils, parents and other witnesses.

Western region Criminal Investigations Officer Shem Nyambok disclosed that preliminary investigations indicate that teachers at the school had restricted pupils to using only one of the two staircases in the building and reserved the other for themselves.

Nyambok said all pupils in Grades 4 and 5 who bore the brunt of the stampede will record statements.

“Our officers would like to establish why the teachers, numbering 50, had decided to restrict the more than 3,000 children to using one side of the staircase. That is quite a big number of children to be restricted to one side of the staircase in a building with narrow corridors,” said Nyambok.

He said detectives are pursuing possibilities of negligence of duty on the part of the teachers.

Nyambok said his office will forward the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for perusal once all statements are recorded. He was however quick to point out that the DPP may reject their theory of negligence of duty and instead recommend for an inquest to be conducted.

Should that be the case, he said,  the magistrate will proceed to make recommendations on the next course of action based on the evidence of those summoned to appear and testify in the inquest.

“Investigations are proceeding well and we are trying to establish whether there was negligence on the part of the teachers and whether the evidence on record can support criminal culpability on their part,” said Nyamboki.

At the same time, Western Region Police Commander Peris Kimani has directed the school board of management to stop nine churches from conducting their services in classrooms at the school.

“These churches have been operating at the school for a long time and using the classrooms as places for worship. That has to stop,” said Nyambok.

Three pupils out of the 15 who died in the stampede will be buried  Saturday.

Those to be buried are Catherine Aloo from Butere, Lavenda Akasa from Ikonyero and Bertha Munywele from Esumiya in Lurambi constituency.

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