MEDIA INTIMIDATION

Two journalists harassed, arrested while covering defilement case in Baringo

In Summary

• They were trying to take photos of a head teacher accused of defiling, impregnating school girl

• They were detained for an hour and were unable to cover other cases 

Spectators crowd around Kabarnet law court in Baringo county on Thursday.
Spectators crowd around Kabarnet law court in Baringo county on Thursday.
Image: JOSEPH KANGOGO

Two Baringo female journalists were arrested and locked up at Kabarnet law court cells while covering a defilement case involving a school head teacher on Thursday.

The Standard newspaper correspondent Yvonne Chepkwony and Kenya News Agency intern Faith Lagat were following an open court case against Sibilo Primary School head teacher Joshua Chebotibin, who allegedly defiled and impregnated a 17-year-old secondary school girl.

“We were doing our normal duties of taking photos of the accused using our phones basically for reporting and then suddenly we were called outside by police officers, harassed, our phones confiscated and then locked us up in the court cells,” Chepkwony said.

She said the officers did not listen to them when they identified themselves as journalists.

“After all, we are familiar faces in the court and even the magistrate handling the case knows us very well,” Chepkwony added.

The two were ordered to delete all the photos they had taken.

Chebotibin pleaded not guilty before senior principal magistrate Paul Biwott and  was released on Sh300,000 bond and surety of similar amount.

The victim, a Form 3 girl from a poor family, has since dropped out to take care of her one and a half month-old baby.

The accused has been interdicted by the Teachers Service Commission.

Chepkwony said upon being arrested and detained for an hour, they were unable to cover other cases before the court.

“There were more defilement and rape cases in the court that we missed out on,” she said.

After being freed following the intervention by a local lawyer, a court clerk was sent to deliver their phones back at the KNA offices where they were waiting. 

“I wonder why the magistrate allowed the humiliation, ridicule and embarrassment to happen to us as he watched,” Chepkwony said.

Chepkwony further said she suffered stomach pains due to hunger as she nurses some minor stomach ulcers.