Makonde marching to Nairobi stranded in Voi after police confiscate bus keys

Wednesday October 12 2016

The group from Kwale, comprising mainly the

The group from Kwale, comprising mainly the Makonde from Mozambique, marching to Nairobi to seek audience with President Kenyatta in a bid to be recognised as citizens. They were Tuesday night briefly detained at Voi Police Station after officers took their vehicles' keys. PHOTO | LUCY MKANYIKA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LUCY MKANYIKA
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More than 300 people representing the "stateless” communities who are trekking from Kwale County to Nairobi in a bid to seek audience with President Uhuru Kenyatta were Tuesday night stranded at the Voi Police Station in Taita Taveta County after police confiscated keys of the buses transporting them.‎

The group, comprising mostly the Makonde from Mozambique who say they have lived in Kenya for 50 years, is being supported by the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and other activists.

Speaking at the Voi Police Station Tuesday night, KHRC project officer, Ms Diana Gichengo, said the police had detained them without proper explanation.

Ms Gichengo said the police had demanded that drivers of their nine vehicles surrender their driving licences and keys which they declined.

“The procession started on Monday and since then police have been intercepting us as if we are criminals. KNCHR informed the relevant authorities about this walk on behalf of the community. We know they are trying to intimidate us but we will not give up,” she said.

MARWA COULD BE INVOLVED

On Monday the team was held for several hours as they at Ng’ombeni in Kwale County apparently on the instructions of Coast Regional Coordinator Nelson Marwa.

“We know the regional coordinator might be involved in this. The police have told us they had orders from above to stop us here,” Ms Gichengo said.

The procession dubbed ‘trekking for citizenship’ includes communities from Burundi, Rwanda and Pemba Island.

Acting Voi OCPD David Kirui refused to disclose the reason behind the Tuesday night detention of the group.

“I cannot talk to the media now. Kindly leave,” he said.

He ordered the people to go to their hotels and leave their vehicles at the police station.

However, they declined to obey the order demanding to know why they were being victimised without proper reasons.

"Are we a security threat to this country? We are walking for a noble course so the government should stop such kind of harassment," said Makonde chairperson Mr Thomas Nguli.

The group was Wednesday morning in Voi on their way to Nairobi.