Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale ruined the mood of a section of mourners who gathered at Bukhungu Stadium for a funeral mass of the 14 pupils who lost their lives at Kakamega Primary School following last Monday’s stampede.
Khalwale rose and grabbed the microphone from nominated MP Wilson Sossion, who had just concluded giving his speech at 12:40 pm Friday.
Sossion — who spoke on the need to ensure teachers’ safety before posting them to war-prone areas — was handing back the microphone to the event’s emcee, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, when Khalwale rose and took it before it could reach Oparanya.
Why Khalwale grabbed mic
K24 Digital understands that Khalwale feared he would not be given an opportunity to address the gathering, and was growing impatient when other leaders were allowed to make their speeches.
In his address, Khalwale hit out at President Uhuru Kenyatta, saying the Head of State is using the BBI project as an avenue to ensure he clings on to power post-2022.
Khalwale claimed he has been a victim of police aggression because “I am against the BBI”.
“Wanataka kuja hapa watulazimishie mambo ya BBI, BBI ambayo wanataka wapatie mtoto wa Kenyatta nafasi ya kundelelea kuwa rais wa Kenya, something which we do not want at all (They are coming here to preach the BBI gospel, yet they know too well that they’re planning to use the BBI to launch a campaign for Constitutional change that will see the son of Jomo Kenyatta extend his term as the President of Kenya. We do not want that to happen, at all),” said Khalwale.
The ex-Ikolomani MP also hit out at Oparanya, saying the county chief, alongside other governors who are serving their second terms, should retire, and not join the clamour for a Constitutional amendment that will see them staying in power post-2022.
“Ndugu zangu governors, wale ambao mumefanya kazi miaka kumi, mkubali; msipindue Katiba, muende nyumbani na Oparanya, sisi tuje hapo tufanye kazi, nyinyi muende nyumbani, wakati wenu umekwisha (My good friends, who are governors in their last terms, accept that your reign is over, don’t join the bandwagon that wants to change the Constitution. You, alongside Oparanya, should all go home, and let people like us take over the reins,” said Khalwale.
The former senator on Tuesday drew mixed reactions, when he sensationally alleged that 14 pupils, who lost their lives at Kakamega Primary School following a stampede on Monday, were sacrificed for Satanic gains.
Speaking at the school on Tuesday, February 4, Khalwale said some churches that hold their worship at the school on Sundays orchestrated the deaths through evil interventions.
“Mr minister [Prof. George Magoha], I want you to prevail upon the head-master of this school. This school should be used only by pupils, teachers and parents. Kakamega Primary School is rented out to churches every Sunday. I am now asking the minister to ban church activities within the school. Why am I saying so? You know that there are churches which are of questionable practice, especially how they deal with our children,” said Khalwale.
“I am a doctor of medicine, and I am telling you that all the 14 children who died, none had wounds oozing fresh blood. We want the minister to know that we won’t allow anybody, including the church, to consume our children’s blood, and sacrifice them through Satanic worship,” said Khalwale to the shock of a section of Western Kenya leaders.
Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala termed Khalwale’s remarks as “insensitive” to the families, whose children died in the tragedy; and “disrespectful” of the Church.
“I urge my fellow politicians to be sensitive and refrain from being political on the deaths of our children. I am disappointed by former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale’s remarks. That was so insensitive of him, and it is disrespectful to the families mourning their children. Khalwale, this is not the time to speculate and politick on [the possible cause of] our children’s deaths, it is time to pray with the community. Don’t point an accusing finger at the Church. Never say churches have killed our children, let investigators get to the bottom of the matter. I feel aggrieved by Khalwale’s remarks. He should apologise to churches in Kakamega County for linking them to the 14 children’s deaths,” Malala told K24 Digital.
And now, Khalwale has responded to Malala’s statement, saying the current Kakamega Senator “has no moral authority to lecture me on what I should say”.
“Mheshimiwa Malala, do not challenge me when I question the integrity of our churches. You are the least qualified to do that. Wakati nakosoa makanisa, na unakuja kujibu mimi… Unataka kutetea wale ambao wana-sacrifice our children, we want to ask you… (When I am faulting the churches, you are quick to criticise me. It seems you are bent on defending those who are sacrificing our children for evil gains,” Khalwale said at Bukhungu Stadium Friday, going ahead to accuse Malala of allegations that we can’t publish in this article for legal reasons.
The ex-Ikolomani legislator went ahead to reiterate his earlier comments on the need to expel churches from Kakamega Primary School.
“Kakamega Primary School is not a headquarters for church services on Sunday. To those churches holding worship at Kakamega Primary School on Sundays, where are your headquarters? What are you doing in schools? You should not be registered as churches if you do not have headquarters.”
Khalwale went ahead to suggest a public inquest is needed to unravel the cause of the fatal stampede.
“To the police officers here, the problem at Kakamega Primary School is too complex to be solved in two days. What is required, is a public inquest that will be chaired by a magistrate or a judge so that all the people who know something about the problem at Kakamega Primary School can speak out. That will help in ending the matter once and for all,” said Khalwale.
“I will come to that inquest to say the following: The building, where the 14 children died, is functionally defective; the staircases do not have rails to protect the kids should anything happen. The staircases’ width is only 4 feet. For a building that has at least 3, 000 occupants, it should have staircases that have a width of 6 feet. The building should be equipped with ramps, not only staircases. When a child falls on a ramp, he or she only rolls, and never injures himself or herself. Governor Oparanya, the engineer who built the Kakamega Primary School building should be fired!” said the ex-lawmaker.
Khalwale also proposed that more teachers should be employed at the Kakamega Primary School to help in the management of children.
“70 teachers are not enough to control a pupil population of 3, 000. That number is akin to five schools in one. TSC should employ more teachers and station them at Kakamega Primary School,” said Khalwale.
Education minister, Prof. George Magoha, while addressing parents, teachers, pupils and the entire Kakamega Primary School fraternity on Tuesday, disclosed that of the 14 learners, who died on Monday, five were male and nine were female.
“Two of the deceased were in Class Four, whereas the remaining 12 were in Class Five,” said the Education CS.
There’s need for thorough probe: Magoha
Education minister Prof. George Magoha on Tuesday said the total student population at Kakamega Primary School was 3, 128, with 296 enrolled to the early childhood education programme.
The CS said the learning centre has 70 teachers employed by the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) and four by the Board of Management.
“The school has an average of 64 pupils per stream, and it has 51 classrooms,” said the minister, who went ahead to claim that due to the school’s history of posting top grades in KCPE, Kakamega Primary School has been popular among parents.
“In 2019, they posted a KCPE mean score of 333 marks out of the possible 500; in 2018, they had an average score of 338 marks; in 2017, they posted a mean score of 336 marks; in 2016, they had 322 marks; and in 2015, they posted a mean score of 328 marks,” said Magoha, who firmly stated he won’t accept a less-convincing finding on the cause of the fatal stampede.
“Children were running, but you won’t tell me they were running over nothing,” said Magoha.
The funeral mass of the 14 Kakamega Primary School was on Friday attended by, among others, Education PS Belio Kipsang, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Governors Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), John Nyagarama (Nyamira), Patrick Khaemba (Trans-Nzoia), James Ongwae (Kisii), Jackson Mandago (Uasin-Gishu), Joshua Sang (Nandi), Wilber Otichilo (Vihiga), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), ANC Party Leader Musalia Mudavadi, his Ford Kenya counterpart Moses Wetangula, MPs Wilson Sossion (nominated), Omboko Milemba (Emuhaya), Titus Khamala (Lurambi).
Cause of stampede
A pupil at Kakamega Primary School, who survived last Monday’s fatal stampede, on Thursday, February 6, told K24 Digital that the chaos began when a male Class Six pupil scared his counterparts in classes 4 and 5, screaming he had seen a ghost that “wanted to suck the children’s blood”.
Fourteen children died, and at least 37 others were injured in the chaos.
According to the daughter of Hellen Wahito and Alex Muhati, a Class Six pupil went to the building that has classes five and four, and told the children that they were being called by their teachers to the staffroom.
When the learners left for staffroom, the Class Six pupil is said to have walked back to a higher floor and told the children that he had an announcement.
When the pupils turned to hear what he had to say, the Class Six pupil is said to have scared his schoolmates that he had seen a ghost that had vowed to suck the children’s blood.
Alarmed, the pupils began scampering for “safety”. The resultant confusion led to the stampede that saw several pupils falling to the staircases and being trampled on by their schoolmates.
Postmortem reports released Thursday, February 6, by pathologist Nixon Mchana show the victims died from suffocation.