It is said that journalism is a calling and not a career and as a number of journalists can attest, they endured assault from authorities who were supposed to ensure their safety.
At the beginning of November, Media Council of Kenya released a report indicating that the country recorded 52 assault cases directed at journalists in eight months from the beginning of the month.
The report further showed that a majority of the victims were men who accounted for 83% while 14% were women.
The report also listed Nairobi, Turkana, Kiambu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Mandera, Kisumu, Nyeri and Baringo were listed as the most dangerous counties for journalists to operate in respectively.
Here are six of the most notable incidents where journalists were assaulted by officers in the line of duty.
1. Sophia Wanuna
KTN News Anchor, Sophia Wanuna.
The KTN News anchor made headlines in March 2018 at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) when police officers roughed her up during a live broadcast while she was covering the return of activist Miguna Miguna to Kenya.
Miguna had become a subject of interest attracting media attention when it was reported he was due back in the country after a controversial deportation process. In the process of preventing journalists from covering Miguna’s aborted return, police roughed up journalists at JKIA.
Wanuna took to twitter the following day to give assurance of her safety and wellbeing but condemned the assault carried out on her and other journalists.
2. Kimani Mbugua
Former Citizen TV reporter Kimani Mbugua, who is now attached at Kenyans.co.ke, had an altercation with Nairobi City County officers.
During the November 2018 incident, Kimani was attacked while recording the officers who were in the process of arresting a Boda Boda operator who had accessed the Central Business District (CBD) illegally.
“The officers were arresting a motorbike operator… it was dangerous…the bike was on the move carrying a passenger and they pulled it from the back,” stated the journalist at the time.
On noticing how risky the action was, Kimani took out his mobile phone to record while he waited for his crew to arrive for the day’s work at a quarter past six.
After informing them that he was recording the video, his phone was confiscated.
Kenyans.co.ke Show host Kimani Mbugua
3. Peter Wainaina NTV
NTV journalist Peter Wainaina was in March 2020 beaten up by a police officer while covering protests by residents in the coast region.
Video evidence at the time showed a police officer following the journalist who was seen running away from the riots with equipment in hand.
The protesters were engaging in running battles with the police who were at the time trying to enforce the dusk to dawn curfew to limit the spread of Covid-19.
“I was actually doing my work and it caught me by surprise the brutality the policeman meted on me. I did not provoke him, and it was uncalled for,” he stated at the time.
The officer hit the journalist on the head with the stick and kicked him telling him to get off the streets.
4. Brian Obuya KTN
In January 2020, KTN journalist Brian Obuya was covering an incident at the Kilimani Police Station in Nairobi when police descended on him.
The journalist was roughed up alongside Wanjohi Githae of Daily Nation as a section of politicians demanded the release of Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.
Kuria had been arrested after being arrested for an alleged assault.
5. Stephen Letoo
In March 2020, Letoo was caught up in the confrontation during the deportation of Miguna from Canada.
Plain-clothes GSU officers assaulted Letoo and other journalists who were on duty at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The officers kicked and slapped the journalist and left some of Citizen TV equipment damaged.
Letoo was treated at a city hospital and discharged the same day.
Citizen TV reporter Stephen Letoo