Dear Editor,

About a year ago there were prowlers in my garden. I called the police and asked them to come and, as is often the case here, they told me to come and collect them. I explained the situation, saying that I couldn’t come but asked if I was permitted to shoot the intruders with my bow and arrow.  The OCS assured me that I could do so, since they were within my property.  Thankfully they went away but a few days later there was a different group in my garden and the same assurance was given. I am told that even if the strangers in my garden happened to be unannounced and un-warranted policemen – I would be within my rights to shoot at them too. If I extrapolate that – and make my garden, say 100 acres or a thousand acres – the same law applies.  And it would be the same if my land happened to encompass around 50,000 acres.In the case where Mr. Cholmondeley is purported to have shot a possible poacher, and without pretending or even needing to know all the details of the case … it can be said that if a landowner encounters trespassers on his land he is entitled, by law, to accost them. If they retaliate in a hostile manner or resist he may take extreme measures. If this happens to occur more than once in a relatively short period of time it does not mean that he is necessarily violent or trigger-happy but simply that there were repeated occurrences of trespass.In the previous occurrence, where Mr. Cholmondeley shot a KWS ranger – it is abundantly clear that the KWS were not following proper procedures and the plain-clothed and armed group
appeared indistinguishable from any other group of armed robbers. Mr. Chalmondeley protected himself and his staff, as was his right, and it was only afterwards that it emerged that it was a KWS
investigation. Consequently, it is KWS who should be compensating their dead ranger’s family and being held accountable for his death not the unfortunate landowner.

In the current case I appeal to members of the public and to politicians who may seize on this opportunity – to allow the proper and due process of the law to unfold and give fair judgment.

Yours sincerely,

Oscar Mann

The Editors,

Standard Newspapers
and Sunday Standard

14th May 2006

Dear Sirs,
I should like to respond to Mr. Gitau Warigi’s article in the Sunday Nation where he says that the issue of Mr. Chalmondeley’s shooting of the trespasser on his land raises class questions. I agree
with this but do not agree that it necessarily raises racial questions. His article underlines the fact that Mr. Warigi himself has a racist’s mind that sees issues in terms of race. I think his article was ugly, biased, racist and irresponsible.

Mr. Mwangi Githahu’s articles and that of Mr. Watoro Kamau – were, thankfully, far more balanced and underlined how much good the Delamere family have actually done for the Nation.

On page 5, The Sunday Standard devotes a full 2.75 column-inches to an incident titled “Farmer kills trespasser” for stealing peas. It is clear that this farmer felt that the well-being of his peas was
more valuable than “the life of a native.” This is a precisely similar case to that of Mr. Cholmondeley. How come that farmer’s story is relegated to a tiny space on page 5 and not to page one.

Both cases are ones of dealing with trespass. Both resulted in the death of the trespasser but the one involving a white landowner is given vastly more weight and negative implications than that of
the “native.” This is racism manifest through unfair and biased reporting by your newspapers and your reporters and is dangerously irresponsible.

I wonder if Mr. Warigi has talked to ANY Zimbabweans. He would be pressed to find any who actually support Mr. Mugabe’s actions. If Mr. Warigi thinks that Zimbabwe has a better policy than Kenya – I dare him to emigrate there and experience first hand what it is like and what he appears to be advocating for Kenya. Even a short visit might make him re-think his stance.

I object to his statements that bitter conversations on the state of our Government are somehow the exclusive realm of white people in Kenya. Kenya’s Governance is in serious trouble and everyone
everywhere is talking and writing about it, as they should.

In a related vein – I think it would be a very interesting and revealing experiment to carry out a survey amongst the employees of a cross-section of Kenya’s races and see if, by chance, some are better treated, as a class, than others.

I should like to remind Kenyans that, whilst a relatively small number of black Kenyans were killed by the colonial government during the Mau Mau years, many thousands were killed, raped, tortured and maimed by the Mau Mau themselves. Remember – this was a war and wars are messy.

Whilst it is a pleasant and romantic dream to retain a pristine and Eden-like countryside teaming with wildlife, everyone knows that this is not practicable and strives for a balance between wildlife/parks and development. Whilst most of the rest of the World has destroyed their natural habitat, we in Kenya are immensely fortunate that this is not yet the case and we have a chance not
to repeat the abysmal blunders of other countries who’s children are denied the experience of how God/Nature created the world. They come here to see what it was and can be like. So – let’s also not
forget the very substantial earnings, amongst other less-tangible benefits, that Kenya enjoys from tourism based on the continued existence of wildlife.

Mr. Mwangi Githahu talks of the Delamere’s founding of the KCC as a way to keep small farmers out of the dairy market. This is a sad distortion of the truth. My Father, Dr. Mann, was also a founder of
the KCC. One of his great prides was the country-wide rural milk collection scheme that brought even the smallest farmer’s milk to market via the KCC, where it could be properly treated to protect
consumers from the possibility of contracting Brucellosis, an endemic and debilitating milk-born disease. It was a model organisation, copied by other countries and sabotaged and plundered by the
greed of a few powerful Kenyans.

(The current advertising campaign by Brookside Dairy cautioning people not to drink local milk has a similar bent except that KCCs approach gave small producers the ability to reach a larger market, whilst Brookside’s policy appears to disenfranchise them!)

Whilst the unfortunate shooting of the trespasser on Mr. Chalmondeley’s land should not be a racial issue, it is certainly a class issue. It is an issue that effects the entire class of landowners –
which includes the majority of Kenyans. It is an issue that effects every landowner in Kenya and those who trespass on their land. It is an issue that highlights the rights of any landowner to
protect his property from trespass or theft regardless of race, nationality or creed.

I appeal to all Kenyans and especially those who’s voices are heard and are influential – particularly our politicians and reporters – to keep this issue where it belongs and not turn it
into a racially-triggered vendetta and smokescreen to hide the far more pressing ills that beset our beautiful country. Let the law run it’s proper course and deal with Mr. Chalmondeley and the farmer
who killed the suspected pea-thief in equal fashion.

Yours sincerely,

Oscar Mann



The Editor,

Daily Metro and Nation Newspapers

Dear Sir,

I have just read the article by Michael Mugwanga in last Thursday’s Metro about Tom Cholmondeley in Kamiti prison.

The first thing that struck me was the fact that Mr Farouk Machanje of the Muslim Human Rights Forum, rather than labelling the treatment of all prisoners there an outrage and calling for prison-wide reforms, says, instead that Mr. Cholmondeley’s treatment is outrageous as it is better than that of others.

I would like to point out that Prisoner’s in Remand are allowed such privileges as visitors, food gifts, pocket money, books, Tv’s, personal clothing, etc. They are being held for trial and are not yet actually ‘convicted prisoners.’ What Mr.Machanje should have been lobbying for is that these amenities ought to be available for all prisoners, not that Mr Cholmondeley’s very minimal ‘privileges’ should be reduced! If you compare the situation at Kamiti with almost any modern prison, almost anywhere in the ‘civilised’ world – you will see that his ‘privileges’ are minuscule by comparison.

The conditions at Kamiti and other prisons in Kenya are barbaric, uncivilised and a shame to the country. They should be upgraded as soon as possible. All prisoners should have access to good food, simple entertainment, adequate toilet facilities, news, literature, studies, useful employment, decent treatment etc. Being imprisoned is enough of a punishment in itself and it is not right to further torture inmates by forcing them to live in ghastly conditions. How come your article didn’t say anything like that? Why is it that Kenyan’s often seem to want to pull everyone down to a common, lowest denominator? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, you say, – so upgrade the other inmates lives rather than call for diminution of so-called privileges enjoyed by a few. One MP’s monthly sallary would go a long way towards upgrading prison facilities!

Mr. Cholmondeley ‘s case is by no means clear cut. Personally I don’t believe he should be in jail at all. He could be under house arrest or prohibited from leaving the country and on a large bond.To wait in jail for over a year for his case is not right. As not right as the fact that the King’ong’o 9 have been in remand for many years – not to mention the countless others in similar situations. Your article did point out that these 9 prisoners receive similar benefits. Should they loose these as well?

What of the court’s illegal and unconstitutional demand that Mr. Cholmondeley supply all his defence details to the prosecution in advance? This takes the law back over 800 years! All Human Right’s Groups should rally around this point alone as it sets a very alarming precedent and affects all Kenyans!

The second thing that struck me was that Mr. Mugwanga states that Mr. Cholmondeley has ‘confessed to both shootings.’ This is completely untrue and may, in fact, be tantamount to contempt of court or open to some other legal reprisal. Throughout his trial Mr. Cholmondeley has only claimed that he shot at a dog that was attacking him. Something well within his rights on his own land! No one else knows or has proved from whence came the bullet that struck Mr. Njoya. Remember that Mr. Cholmondeley’s companion also carried a firearm! What the press has generally failed to stress is that Mr. Cholmondeley did everything he could to save Njoya’s life – including rushing him to hospital where he sadly bled to death. Let’s also remember that, in this incident, Mr. Njoya was a poacher, at the very least – a trespasser, and whether he was ‘a stonemason’ or not in ‘normal life’ is neither here nor there. He could as easily have been a bank manager outside of his trespassing activities!

In the case of the death of Mr. Samson Ole Sisima – it is my belief that it is KWS who should be reprimanded for a botched security exercise where it appeared to all at Soysambu that they were under genuine attack by unknown assailants. A meat inspection can be carried out without such commando tactics! A fully uniformed officer, bearing a proper warrant, should have presented this at the ranch office. KWS should compensate Mr. Sisina’s family and apologise to the Soysambu management for their wrongful action.

It seems clear that Mr Cholmondeley is being held and his trial prolonged, obfuscated and complicated unnecessarily and unlawfully for political ends – and that, again, is something that the various Human Right’s groups you mention, should investigate and be condemning, as it affects all existing and potential prisoners.

The law should specifically prohibit the long incarceration in remand of suspects. If their trials can’t be finalised within a very specific and reasonable period, prisoners should be released, at the very least, on bail. Holding them is against Habeas Corpus and should also be subject of the attention of the Human Right’s groups.

Yours sincerely,
Oscar Mann
Director, Council for Human Ecology, Kenya
Box 24501, Nairobi.


One Response to Stuff

  1. marian says:

    Oscar said it all, and so well

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