A journalist from the Star newspaper, Musembi Nzengu, and two others were assaulted and subsequently arrested by police officers while attempting to cover the arrival of a new secondary school principal in Kitui County. The incident occurred on February 2024 at Mutonguni Boys High School, where the principal, amidst parental disapproval over perceived poor performance, was reporting for induction.

Nzengu recounted that upon their arrival at the school, they found the gates closed and the school management already inside. As they were leaving, a police officer instructed them to vacate the area, expressing a desire to keep it clear. Nzengu attempted to capture the scene with his camera, prompting the officer to confront him, leading to physical assault resulting in injuries to Nzengu’s hand and bleeding. Subsequently, they were transported to Ndolo’s Police station and booked, facing potential charges of creating a disturbance.

The journalists’ presence at the school stemmed from reports of parental discontent with the newly appointed principal. Parents had protested the appointment, fearing negative implications for the school’s performance. Nzengu noted that the heightened security presence seemed aimed at preempting potential unrest during the principal’s assumption of duties.

The newly appointed principal hails from Kivuthini Secondary School, which garnered a mean grade of 3.7 in 2023 according to Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education analysis. Meanwhile, Mutonguni Boys’ had a mean grade of 4.791 in the same year. Parental dissatisfaction led to a petition to the Teachers Service Commission, citing alleged contraventions of constitutional and legal provisions, and demanding the principal’s removal.

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