A section of Thika-based journalists has threatened to boycott events attended by second lady Pastor Dorcus Gachagua citing hostility and intimidation by her security details.
Having come face to face with the unfriendly officers, the journalists stated that covering the Second Lady in the presence of her security team is equal to embracing repression.
While terming the harassment by the ununiformed officers as barbaric acts that used to be deployed during the colonial era, the journalists insisted that unless an overhaul of her security team is done, it will be hard for them to cover her events going forward.
"The harassment of journalists by overzealous so-called security men must be condemned with the strongest words possible. These barbaric acts belonged to the long-gone era of the infamous KANU regime where oppression of media people was the order of the day,” Oliver Musembi, a veteran writer based in the busy town stated.
On Wednesday, November 30, 2022, the Second Lady's church event at Makongeni village in Thika was given a wide berth by journalists who have vowed to ignore her events going by their recent experiences with the officers.
Only one journalist who was under instructions from their head office attended the event which only lasted two hours.
While exonerating the Second Lady from their bad experiences, the journalists narrated how the security officers often intimidate them not to ask questions.
Moses Ngigi, another journalist, recounted how a female officer in Dorcas' security team pinched him recently and threatened to beat him up if he dared to pose another question to the official.
He revealed that another colleague was also pushed and warned against asking more questions to Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s wife saying that the officers were out to stop them from their journalistic duty.
"A few weeks ago, I was in the company of other journalists covering a Church function that was attended by the second lady, Pastor Dorcas Rigathi, at Makongeni in Thika. The second lady was willing to take questions from the press but her security details were on our neck the moment we raised our hands to ask a question," Ngige narrated.
"I was pinched by a female plain-clothed askari who threatened to beat me up if I asked another question (Nitakugonga ukiuliza swali wewe (I’ll beat you if you dare ask another question)) but I thought she wasn't serious and I went ahead to ask my question. My colleague was also pushed and warned not to ask Pastor Dorcas a question. They just don't want us to do our job and that is not acceptable!” Ngige added.
The journalists made the revelations days after Mwangi Muiruri, a Murang’a-based journalist was physically assaulted by the same officers after he was found filming a food-donation event that Dorcas had attended at Gatanga constituency.
Although the Media Council of Kenya condemned the incident and called upon the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to conduct investigations and make public their findings, journalists term it unsafe to cover certain government officials in the presence of ruthless officers who do not recognize their job.