A pilot who was captured on video assaulting a police officer in Nyandarua last Sunday has been fired.
On top of that, Captain Alistair Patrick Llewelyn, an Australian national, faces criminal charges and possible deportation.
He spent last night in police custody after he was arrested in Nairobi on Tuesday and driven back to Nyandarua where the crime took place. He is expected to appear in court Wednesday.
Mr Llewelyn had flown Deputy President William Ruto to a church fundraiser at Ndunyu Njeru, and was shown reacting angrily to Cpl Mercy Wandera’s crowd control skills.
As crowds surged towards the helicopter, a visibly agitated Mr Llewelyn confronted Ms Wandera, slapped her and shoved her around, accusing her of failing in her duties.
Wednesday Kenyans reacted angrily to the video clip, which was circulated widely on social media.
Within hours, Mr Llewelyn’s employer released a statement saying that it had sacked him over the incident.
“Kwale Island Development Limited respects all the servicemen and women of the Kenya Police and abhors the actions of Alistair Llewelyn,” read the statement, signed by manager Marco Brighetti. “We have since terminated the agreement between itself and Alastair Llewelyn.”
RUTO BUSINESS PARTNER
Sources intimated that Mr Brighetti is a close business associate of the Deputy President, and that the two co-own the company that runs the helicopter that Mr Llewelyn was piloting. The company is based at Wilson Airport and records from the Kenya Gazette show that it was issued with a three-year licence in August last year. The notice does not specify the aircraft registration number.
However, Mr Ruto’s press office denied ownership of the aircraft, saying the helicopter had been chartered for the DP’s travels.
“The Deputy President is saddened by what transpired,” read a statement from Mr Ruto’s office. “He holds the National Police Service in the highest esteem, finds the incident regrettable and troubling, and has asked the police to take appropriate and immediate action.”
Mr Ruto’s office linked Mr Llewelyn’s actions to sexual discrimination, saying that “the Government takes a strong stand against any behaviour that borders on bigotry, misogyny, chauvinism and violence against women”.
“Women are entitled to respect, and any actions which violate their dignity are cowardly, barbaric and outrageous,” said the DP.
Women lawmakers demanded stern action against the pilot, abhorring the attack on a police officer doing her job. Speaking at Parliament Buildings, the MPs and senators asked the government to revoke Mr Llewelyn’s work permit.
“We condemn in the strongest terms possible the treatment of the police officer. This is evil. It is wrong. It is very bad. The pilot should be arrested immediately. He should be deported. We cannot just sit and see what he did. People should respect anyone, even policewomen. There is no investigation to be done. That man should be arrested,” said Mogotio MP Hellen Sambili.
The lawmakers said the police Inspector-General should not say he is investigating because there was nothing to be investigated since the video was clear.
Public Service, Youth and Gender CS Sicily Kariuki said: “I commend the Inspector-General for acting swiftly to ensure the culprit faces the full force of the law.”
A source from Mr Llewelyn’s workplace — who cannot be named because of the sensitivity of the matter — said the pilot, who holds an Australian passport, was born in Nanyuki, Laikipia County, and that even though he was a “rough” man, this was the first time he had been involved in a physical confrontation.
The man who took the video clip, Mr Michael Munene, said he did not envisage that things would unfold the way they did.
“I wanted to take a clip of the helicopter for my library, only for me to see the pilot in a commotion. I continued recording the sequence of events,” he said.
The Nation caught up with him at Engineer Police Station on Tuesday, where he had gone to record a statement.
“I went home on Sunday, watched it again, and slept. But on Monday morning I decided to send it to several of my media friends only for the video to go viral,” he said.
Mr Munene said he had written a protest letter to the Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery as well as the Inspector-General, protesting what he termed as a “dehumanising moment” subjected to a uniformed officer.
“A police woman was mishandled by a pilot, making we members of the public feel slighted, disrespected and lowered in dignity,” he says in the letter.
Cpl Wandera, who was also at the police station but was not allowed to speak to the media, is said to have served in the force for close to nine years. She works out of Magumu Police Station.