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Kakamega school stampede probe report finally out

By Simon Oyeng’ | June 27th 2020
Kakamega Primary School pupils during the reopening of the school after a stampede that caused deaths of 14 in February this year. [File, Standard]

Investigations into the tragic stampede at Kakamega Primary School have exonerated teachers from the tragedy.

Investigators also ruled out reports that church cults and ghosts caused the incident that claimed 14 lives on February 3, this year.

Investigations indicated that teachers were the first responders at the scene and helped rescue a number of pupils.

“Upon the sound of the alarm, they (teachers) were the first to rescue the pupils who had stumbled on each other and were trapped in the building,” states the report.

In their findings, police indicated that the stampede was an accident and that there was no crime committed.

“There is no clear criminal act that has been committed that is evident, no persons have been mentioned in connection with the stampede as well. This was an unfortunate event,’’ states the report.

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions has ordered that the matter be placed before a magistrate for immediate formal closure to calm speculations.

The report also downplayed claims of structural errors in the three-storey building housing the school’s classrooms.

The report cites a preliminary observation on the state of the classrooms at the school that was prepared by the Western Regional Coordinator dated February 14, which indicated that there was no link between structural failure and the stampede.

Postmortem reports indicated the pupils died from asphyxia.

The report was a relief to some churches that had been holding services at the school before the stampede and which some residents suspected of practising cultism. It was also a relief for teachers who had been accused of negligence. 

Parents had earlier protested delayed release of the report after Education CS George Magoha, who visited the school recently, indicated that it was not urgent.

Prof Magoha had urged parents to forget about the past and focus on more important issues affecting the school, sparking an uproar from parents who lost their children in the tragedy.

A former senator was among area leaders who had questioned the use of the school’s facilities by some churches.

“A lot is being peddled on social media regarding what happened. We should not allow politicians to cheat us with what they think; let us learn from past mistakes and wait for the report,” Magoha said in a previous visit to the school.

At least 46 pupils and 14 teachers recorded statements with the officers who investigated the stampede.

The investigators reported that a large number of those who gave statements did not have first-hand accounts of the tragedy, leading to inconsistencies.

The much awaited report came four months after the incident. Parents interviewed criticised it for failing to capture details of what could have transpired.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary General Wilson Sossion led the push for a special committee to probe the status of public schools.

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