Police are in hot pursuit of the masterminds of cheating in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination through leaks that have so far seen several teachers and security personnel arraigned in court.
Detectives told the Nation they had identified two suspects — one in Nairobi and the other upcountry — who they believe were behind the incident in Kisii where 17 people were caught red-handed on Monday filling in answer sheets before distributing them to students.
Arrests of the masterminds, whose identities were not revealed for fear of compromising the hunt, could be made as early as Thursday.
In the intensified crackdown, the Principal of Shamte Academy, Mr Salim Mango, and four teachers were charged before Kakamega Principal Magistrate Hazel Wandere with allowing unauthorised people to access examination materials and to enter an examination centre. Among the four teachers was the deputy.
Four other accused, Press Dence, Nelson Sakwa, Nessy Georgeus and Modican Mosy, were charged with being in possession of examination materials without lawful authority.
They were remanded until November 14 after they failed to raise a cash bail of Sh50,000.
The Nation has learnt that key suspects have already been identified together with their accomplices.
The key suspects are believed to be working with some centre managers, who are also school principals, to ensure that supervisors, invigilators and police officers agree to open the materials before time.
They then mark the answer sheets with the correct responses and present them to candidates in the examination hall.
Previously, suspects used to get materials from rogue Knec officials, but they are now targeting head teachers, the only people authorised to receive materials on behalf of schools.
“We have not witnessed any leak so far except for a few cases where field officers open exam materials before time,” Knec chairman George Magoha said.
At least 31 people suspected of involvement in examination irregularities have been arrested countrywide.
They include 24 teachers, four policemen, a bursar and two photocopyists.
In Kisii, 17 suspects were arrested on Monday after they were found with copies of a Chemistry exam paper that was being done at the time. They were caught working out the answers in a house neighbouring the school.
The suspects include a supervisor, seven invigilators and a deputy principal at Monianku Secondary School.
All were taken to court and detained in police custody for five more days to allow conclusion of investigations.
Knec had earlier identified Kisii and Kakamega counties as among the hotspots for examination cheating.
The council has also put some 222 schools under heavy scrutiny because of their previous involvement in exam malpractices.
The anomalies led to cancellation of results for 1,205 students last year.
During the just-concluded Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination, Science and Kiswahili papers disappeared in Narok County and have not been found to date.
Some teachers who have been arrested so far audaciously wrote the examinations for students and tried to give the answers to students despite tight security.
In Kakamega, County Commissioner Jaldesa Abdulrizak has banned night vigils, popularly known as “disco matanga”, and banned playing of loud music.
“We have resolved to ban loud music at funerals to curb increasing cases of insecurity and illicit sex, which leads to early pregnancy and dropping out of school,” he announced Wednesday while attending a security meeting in Butere Sub-county.
The commissioner also put chiefs and their assistants on notice over alleged negotiations between victims’ parents and rape suspects to settle defilement cases out of court.
“It is illegal for any government officer to promote such talks. Those found culpable risk losing their jobs. They must be arrested and prosecuted for aiding the violation of the rights of girls and obstructing justice,” Mr Jaldesa said.
The commissioner said “disco matangas” provide a cover for sale of drugs, including bhang and illicit brews.
Reporting by Ouma Wanzala, Benson Amadala, Joseph Openda, Macharia Mwangi, Dorine Magak, Shaban Makokha, Vivere Nandiemo and Victor Raballa.