Kandara politician held after demos over Del Monte land

Wednesday May 15 2019

Phillip Kamau alias PMG

Kandara Residents Association Chairman Phillip Kamau alias PMG speaks on May 15, 2019 during demonstrations over the Del Monte land, part of which residents want given to the. Police later arrested him saying the demos were illegal. PHOTO | NDUNG'U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NDUNG'U GACHANE
By NDUNG'U GACHANE
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Police in Murang’a have arrested Kandara politician Phillip Kamau alias PMG after a group which he leads demonstrated and blocked the busy Thika-Kabati road at the Makenji bus stage.

The politician, who is the chairman of Kandara Residents Association, a group that has been demanding that fruit processing company Del Monte cedes part of its land to the locals claiming it was grabbed from their forefathers, staged protests along the road on Wednesday and burnt tyres before they were dispersed by a contingent of police officers using tear gas.

The group later re-convened at a hotel where police officers stormed and arrested Mr Kamau and a group of over 10 demonstrators.

QUESTIONING

The officers said the politician had been taken in for questioning.

The group has also filed a petition at the Murang’a Lands and Environment Court demanding that Del Monte cedes over 7,000 acres of land to them.

Contacted, Kandara OCPD Paul Wambugu told the Nation that they had only taken Mr Kamau and his group for questioning following their conduct during the protests.

He said after interrogating Mr Kamau and his group, they will decide on whether to charge him or not.

“We have only taken Mr Kamau and his group for questioning. We will interrogate him and then decide our next course of action,” Mr Wambugu told the Nation.

Demonstrators light tyres

Demonstrators light tyres along the Nyeri-Nairobi highway at Kabati in Murang'a on May 15, 2019 during protests over the Del Monte land lease renewal. PHOTO | NDUNG'U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

BREACHED AGREEMENT

On his part Murang’a County Police Commander Josephat Kinyua told the Nation that the association breached their agreement with the police, saying they had notified the authorities that they would hold a meeting and not the protests that saw a busy Nairobi-Nyeri highway blocked on both sides.

He said they are also investigating claims that some of the demonstrators stormed the Del Monte farm and destroyed fruits.

“The group had notified us of their intention to hold a meeting and not holding demos. We will interrogate their leader to know the charges he will face; we can’t allow people to just wake up and decide to close a busy road such as the Nyeri-Nairobi highway,’ he said.

TALKS

Before being arrested and bundled into police car, Mr Kamau said they decided to hold protests after realising that the county governments of Murang’a and Kiambu wanted to exclude them in talks with the world chairman of Del Monte Pacific who is expected in the country for negotiations.

“The company, together with the county governments of Murang’a and Kiambu have called us amorphous group and do not want to engage us in the negotiations while it is us who filed the case in court that gave rise to negotiations. We will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“Despite the National Land Commission orders through a gazette notice on March 1, 2019 [requiring] the company to cede 70 percent of its land to the locals, the directive is yet to be implemented. We want the world to know about our cries,” Mr Kamau said.

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