The move by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations [DCI] to revive the 2007/08 post-election violence has continued to elicit mixed reactions. The allies of Deputy President William Ruto would draw my attention because they were the first to fault the move and did not wait for the dust to settle. As the 118 victims recorded their statements at DCI headquarter, some would make verbal comments, and others use social media to register their reservations.
Listen to this. The DCI boss George Kinoti is taking us back. We do not want to be reminded of what happened at that time. Reopening these cases is tantamount to opening the old wounds which had ‘healed’. He should stop pursuing this matter because the move could re-ignite tensions among communities living in this region.
Listening to their comments, one thing was quite clear. Once again, they wanted to sell fear to the communities, particularly the Kikuyus, which originally did not hail from Rift Valley. Though the law allowed every Kenyan to buy land, operate business and live in any part of Kenya, the locals had been made to believe that these ‘foreigners’ came and took away their ancestral land.
So, in the countdown to the 2007 General election, the politicians, who campaigned on a platform of 42Vs1, rallied them to evict ‘madoadoa’ and uproot ‘nippier grasses’.
It should be noted that no peace and reconciliation can be realized in the absence of truth and justice. As such, the victims of Kenya’s worst post-poll chaos that left more than 1,200 people dead and led to the destruction of properties worth billions of shillings had made the right step in calling on DCI to help them pursue restorative justice.
After receiving complaints of fresh threats and that some of them had been attacked in what was interpreted as a build-up of tension ahead of 2022 polls, the DCI commenced the investigations that lasted three weeks. The officers visited the hotspots to collect evidence that would help to tighten their cases against perpetrators.
At the DCI office, some of the victims, who agreed to talk with the media, narrated the pain they suffered in hands of the attackers. We want to be compensated and action taken against those who killed our loved ones, burnt our houses, maimed us, and stole our lands and animals.
Those, who committed these heinous crimes, should return our properties. For those who snuffed away the lives of innocent Kenyans, they should face stiffer punishment. After this, we will forgive them.
Again, this is the only way to contain the recurring violence witnessed in every election cycle since the repeal of Section 2A that ushered in multiparty democracy in 1991.
A case study of the road to restorative justice is best illustrated by what transpired in Rwanda after the genocide that left more than 800,000 people dead. The Gacaca courts established in every village played a leading role in the search for long-lasting peace and reconciliation.
After the victims recorded their statements, the attackers were summoned and put on trial. Thereafter, the rulings were delivered and attackers ordered to surrender all the properties they had stolen. For the loss of life, the killers would be heavily punished. Once this is done, the victims and perpetrators were asked to forgive and embrace each other.
In Kenya, this did not happen and for this reason, the DCI is on right track. As Kinoti stated, criminal cases have no timelines and this means they can be revived even after more than 50 years. Therefore, I would not expect Kenyans to fall prey to tricks employed by those politicizing the reopening of the cases by casting Kinoti in bad light. If you are innocent, there is nothing to fear.
The head of DCI vowed to ensure the perpetrators face the law. This would serve as a big lesson to those planning to ignite another wave of violence. He means well for the country and we should support him.
Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a Political Analyst and Blogger