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Queries emerge on deadly Kitui fire truck accident

Questions are being raised in the Friday accident where former Kitui mayor Martha Mwangangi was crushed to death by a county government fire engine.

One of the questions is why the fire-fighting truck was being driven by an unqualified person who is not the designated driver yet there was no emergency.

The bonfires that had been lit by hawkers demonstrating against demolition of their kiosks by county authorities had been put off by 11am. The truck was driven into the crowd at a different location hours later.

Secondly, the truck had neither fire fighters nor water for putting out a fire.

Former Lands cabinet secretary Charity Ngilu, who escaped death by a whisker, alleged that she was the target of assassination.

Preliminary investigations by police established that the driver, Mr John Nzuki, who was immediately arrested and put in custody, was not the official driver and was not accompanied by any fire fighter during the incident.

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DRIVER OFF DUTY

According to Kitui Central police chief Muthuri Mwongera, Mr Nzuki said he was assigned the fire engine on Friday morning by his bosses because the usual driver was off duty.

“He told us he drives garbage trucks and that he was asked to hold brief for his colleague,” Mr Mwongera told the Nation on telephone.

Mr Mwongera said that the truck’s braking system was in good condition and that the accident wasn’t as a result of mechanical failure.

He said they were still holding Mr Nzuki for further questioning and that he would be arraigned in court on Monday to face charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

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Detectives are also trying to establish why the truck driver drove into the crowd ostensibly to scare away the protesters, yet the march had been concluded at the station.

CRUSHED TO DEATH

Kalundu market, the epicentre of Friday’s protests, is almost a kilometre away from the police station, on the Kitui-Nairobi highway.

Mrs Mwangangi, a long-serving civic leader and close political ally of Mrs Ngilu was crushed to death outside Kitui police station.

Mrs Ngilu escaped after her security detail swiftly threw her into the police station fence.

Minority Leader at Kitui County assembly Alex Nganga said Mrs Ngilu had walked alongside Mrs Mwangangi in the protest march and that charging the engine into the crowd in broad daylight was nefarious. “The person wanted to kill and he killed our former Mayor, though he may have missed his real target,” Mr Nganga said.

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Mrs Ngilu is seeking to unseat Kitui Governor Julius Malombe in next year’s polls. She had escorted the protesters to record statements with police over the demolitions.

Mr Malombe spent the day hosting his county staff to an end-of-year meeting at Ithookwe showground. He said: “Anyone claiming the death was planned is taking advantage of a tragic situation to advance a political agenda,” he said.

Kitui senatorial aspirant Enoch Wambua called on police to carry out thorough investigations to allay fears of foul play.

“The people of Kitui want assurance that the security of their leaders is guaranteed,” Mr Wambua said.

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