Former JKUAT student who tried breaking into State House cries for help

Brian Kibet Bera, the man who intruded State House on June 10, 2019. [File, Standard]

About five years ago, Brian Bera's life took a dramatic turn when he attempted to storm the heavily-guarded State House Nairobi.

The then Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) student's actions sent shockwaves through the nation, raising questions about mental health and security.

It has since emerged that Bera's descent into crisis began a week before the incident. Armed with a pocket knife, he reportedly became increasingly paranoid, fearing a return to a mental health facility he had been discharged from a year earlier.

He described his experience at the hospital as ‘harrowing’, leading him to resist any attempt at being readmitted.

On June 10, 2019, the fateful day, Bera's classmates informed him that he was being pursued by authorities.

His response was bizarre; he consumed a huge amount of honey and rice, then declared his intention to head straight to the State House.

Bera, however, boarded a matatu to Nairobi.  He intended to use the official entrance, Gate A, but became confused and ended up at Gate D near the Nairobi Arboretum.

"I knew death was a possibility. I offered a final prayer before a soldier (read GSU officer) approached me, questioning my presence,” he recounted.

Neither Bera nor the General Service Unit (GSU) officer grasped the gravity of the situation.

Bera's struggle with mental illness and the sight of the knife he brandished prompted the presidential guard to aim his gun at him. Bera lunged towards the officer, only to be met with a slammed gate.

Undeterred, he proceeded to Gate B, then Gate A, where his confrontation with three officers escalated.

They reacted swiftly, firing shots that subdued Bera. He received medical attention within the State House and was questioned about his motives.

Today, Bera, expresses deep remorse and seeks forgiveness.

"I wrote to the President requesting a shift to a gold and silver-based currency, but received no response," Bera explains. "That's when I decided to intrude into State House.” 

Bera's delusions extended beyond politics. He also claims to have requested the conversion of Mt Elgon National Park into a reserve so he could live in its caves, mirroring his ancestors.

Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he was transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital, where he initially refused medical treatment.

The court, recognising his mental state, ordered a two-week stay at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) Eldoret.

"Upon discharge, people back home blamed my behaviour on drugs. That led me to try marijuana myself,” he said.

Bera was later to be acquitted on condition that he adhere to a prescribed medication regimen, which he continues to this day. He now extends apologies to both former President Kenyatta and the current president Dr William Ruto.

Bera also appeals for government assistance to enable him complete his education, which he abandoned in his final semester in 2019.

"My father struggles to support our six-member family. Government support for my school fees and upkeep would be a huge help," Bera states.

His journey also highlights the challenges faced by individuals recovering from mental illness. He once embarked on a misguided trek from Kitale to Mombasa, hoping to become a fisherman, before eventually securing a free ride.

His mother, Irene Chemtai, confirms her son's improvement with consistent medication but emphasises the need for educational support.

"Staying home worsens his condition. Getting him back to school would be beneficial." She said.

Bera, once a promising student with a 407 KCPE score and an A (Plain) in KCSE, now aspires to complete his mechanical engineering degree at JKUAT.