Chaos as police disperse unruly parents at Mukumu Girls'

A meeting set to plan for the opening of Mukumu Girls' secondary ended prematurely when parents and security officials failed to agree on how grain condemned as unfit for consumption should be destroyed.

As the parents demanded the grain be burnt in their presence the security officials from the area led by Western Regional Commissioner Macharia Irungu, insisted the burning could not be officiated by parents but the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

When they failed to agree, the parents numbering in their hundreds started walking towards the school stores where the grain was stored to execute the burning, a thing that forced police officers guarding the meeting to lob tear gas to disperse them.

"There are procedures of doing such destruction of condemned food, NEMA and other authorities must be present. It cannot be done in a lay manner like you want us to do," said Macharia as he tried to stop the enraged parents on Saturday at the school's compound.

The parents we talked to feared that if left intact, shrewd school operatives would still feed their children the grain which, together with contaminated water, was linked to the mass illnesses that hit the school a month ago leading to the death of a teacher and three students.

"We came here to deliberate on the progress of structured opening of the school since closure a month ago especially to see how far the school is with implementing recommendations towards opening of the school but Mr Irungu won't listen to us," said Susan Mutali, a parent.

"There was an order that all the grain in the store be destroyed and we wonder why it has not been implemented yet it was issued mid this month. We demand that it be destroyed because something is not adding up, someone is not keen on the health of our students even after facing death."

The deaths forced a committee formed to look at their course constituting individuals from the Ministry of Health and Education to shut down the school with at least 2,000 students on April 2.

The situation also saw Ms Fridah Ndolo the school's long serving principal transferred to the office of the Western region director of the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and succeeded by Shikoti Girls' Secondary School principal, Sr Jane Mmbone.

Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale and Woman MP Elsie Muhanda among other local leaders in the meeting were forced to flee from the fumes of teargas as the chaos erupted.

The chaos came even after teachers in the school had raised objections to the May 2 opening date. The tutors demanded that the school be opened earliest on May 5 to give them ample time to mourn their departed colleague.