Bishop Wanjiru attackers must be brought to book

Televangelist Bishop Margaret Wanjiru is assisted by Church members as she leaves the church in Nairobi on March 6, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Rowdy youths went to the Jesus Is Alive Ministries (JIAM) church in Nairobi on Wednesday last week and demolished a perimeter wall and part of the building. They claimed that JIAM, owned by Bishop Margaret Wanjiru, sits on grabbed land that belongs to Kenya Railways Corporation.

Wanjiru was injured as she tried to stop destruction of her purported property by people that she later claimed were police officers.

The bishop spent a night in hospital as a result. She accused the Jubilee administration, that she campaigned for ahead of the 2022 elections, of turning against her by unleashing police officers who assaulted and even attempted to undress her.

While the veracity of the claim that JIAM sits on grabbed land is a matter for the courts to determine, Wanjiru’s mistreatment should be condemned in the strongest terms possible. And not only because she is a renowned bishop, a former MP and assistant minister; but because Kenyans are protected from such brutality by the Constitution. There is no justification at all for police to use brute force on unarmed Kenyans and more so women.

But that is seemingly too hard for our law enforcers to understand. The attack on Wanjiru came barely a week after the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union Secretary General Devji Atellah was seriously hurt on the head by a teargas canister fired by police during a peaceful demonstration. 

Such barbarity has no place in a democratic society where rule of law reigns supreme. Police officers who unleash needless violence as in the case of Wanjiru and Dr Atellah must have their day in court. Also worrying is the use of force during evictions under a regime that promised that such exercises would be conducted with utmost decorum unlike in the past.

None other than Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua promised last year that under Kenya Kwanza, evictions would be done humanely.  While addressing Regional Police Commanders in November 2022, Dr Ruto also said, “We want the police to be professional, independent and accountable while protecting Kenyans”. What changed?