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How arsonists fooled police in Malindi school

By Mwangi Muraguri | July 22nd 2016


After burning a dormitory, arsonists used a decoy to successfully torch a library at Malindi High School.

School principal Julius Changawa said the acts of arson have all the hallmarks of good planning in light of the events that preceded the second attack.

The arsonists fooled the security officers deployed to guard the school after the first arson on Tuesday.

"At around 6.20pm, it was brought to my attention that fire had started in one of the dorms. We rushed there and found two mattresses had been set ablaze," Mr Changawa said.

"We put out the fire only to be informed five minutes later that a huge inferno had engulfed the library. We rushed there and only salvaged a few books" he added.

Even as the county security team sent students homes Thursday morning, Changawa, who has been a teacher for 20 years, maintained that the recent developments were unusual.

"Unlike in the normal situation where striking students are irate and uncontrollable, this time they were cool and were easy to prevail upon to spend the night in the school," he said while recalling the buildup of events that saw property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

The County Security Committee had decided not to send the students home after Tuesday night's fire but the arsonists were not done.

"The fire started at about 9.40pm after night preps. It razed part of the dormitory and affected 72 students," he said.

Changawa said the county security team led by Kilifi County Commissioner Joseph Keter visited the school after the first fire and agreed that space be created within the school to accommodate affected students.

"We made arrangements and the affected students were accommodated in the computer laboratory," he said.

Finished exams

"We thought there was no reason to close the school as we had just finished exams that come after the midterm break," said Changawa.

"The students appeared very calm as the committee addressed the learners and the arson on the library barely a day later was unimaginable," he added.

The security committee decided to retain the students in school on Wednesday night under the watch of security personnel before releasing them Thursday.

Changawa, his deputy, two teachers and three students have recorded statements with police.

"In normal strikes, students are angry and it is usually very hard to address them. But in this case, they were calm as the security committee advised them on the importance of respecting life and property and staying in school to learn," he said.

Mr Keter said they would investigate the matter to establish why the school is always at the epicentre of school unrest in Kilifi County. Regional Commissioner Nelson Marwa said arsonists, whether students or otherwise would be treated as criminals. Mr Marwa said the Government had intelligence about teachers who were inciting students.

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