Eight months ago, tears flowed as Moi Girls High School, Nairobi, bade farewell to eight students killed in a night blaze.
Speaker after speaker — parents, teachers and senior government officials who converged for a funeral service at the school — were overcome by emotion.
The management and the government, united in grief, promised to ensure a similar tragedy does not recur. But despite the promises, parents were on Saturday night hit by shock over another tragedy, which also brought to the fore security breaches in the institution.
That a stranger walked into the institution, raped a girl and walked away without being arrested shocked the nation. The school was back again in the limelight for the wrong reasons — this time battling claims of negligence and cover-up attempts after the Friday night rape.
Spread over 43 acres and sandwiched between the sprawling Kibera slums and Woodley estate, Moi Girls High School, Nairobi, has a rich history.
Retired President Daniel Moi — the man after whom the school was named — frequently visited the school for Sunday services in the 1990s. The retired President would enjoy a jig with the girls, raise money in impromptu harambees and occasionally ordered bulls and goats slaughtered to feed the girls.
Moi’s love gave the institution special status and prestige, making it a magnet for the rich — the very rich. The school is situated on Kang’ethe Road and a few kilometres from Moi’s Kabarnet Gardens home.
However, despite the high-flying connections and well-connected parents, the institution is on the spot for security lapses that could have as well cost the girls their lives.
Moi Girls is protected by Lavington Security and has six guards with two dogs at any given night. How a man was able to gain access and rape girls without being detected is anyone’s guess.
Yesterday, former Education PS James ole Kiyiapi termed the incident troubling and “totally unacceptable”.
“The Ministry of Education must get to the bottom of the security lapses and come up with far-reaching measures to restore confidenc and wellbeing of students,” he said.
Kenyans have vented their anger at the administration following the rape.
“The principal of Moi Girls, where a student was raped, must be jailed for the offence of negligence,” former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale said on Twitter.
Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot said swift action must be taken.
“It is clear the principal of Moi Girls’ High School, Nairobi, has questions to answer over the alleged rape incident. MOE [The Ministry of Education] should indict her like yesterday. Those are far too many grave mishaps in her school,” he said on Twitter.
Students say the girl was raped in the ablution block. Police took over the investigation yesterday and have gathered information from the six who recorded statements at Kilimani police station.
Those being quizzed include security guards who were on duty, two students and the doctor who examined the raped girl.
The students usually report to the matron in the evening while the matron liaises with security staff at night to ensure their safety.
Those who spoke to the Star said they tried to get help from the matron and the administration, but it was all in vain.
“It saddens that when we tried to raise our voice on the issues, the school said the victims were pretending and that we should blame it on lesbianism,” one girl said during a gathering attended by parents, principal Jael Muriithi and Education ministry director general Ellyas Abdi.
COVER – UP?
Another girl said a female teacher instructed victims to get a shower. Some students told the Star they were promised scholarships if they kept mum.
The students said they had to pressure the school to take the girl to hospital at around 7am on Saturday.
The school’s management relented at 8am and took the girl to Nairobi Women’s Hospital, Hurlingham.
The attempt to cover up the attack has led to a public outcry. According to the administration, the incident was first reported at 7am on Saturday.
Multiple interviews with students, school staff, parents and victims shows there was a cover-up attempt.
The girl’s parents were informed of the rape at 9am and rushed to the hospital.
“We found everything had been done. When we asked for the results one doctor told us it had come out negative. Another gynaecologist told me the results were positive,” one parent said.
She was sent back to school at around midday, but the parents demanded a second test.
At around 2pm, the girl was taken to Kenyatta National Hospital together with officers from Lancet Kenya. A second test confirmed she had been raped.
SHORT, STUNT, SQUINTS
As part of school policy, four teachers must be on duty every week. One of the four must live in the school. It’s unclear if any of the teachers on duty was in school.
The guards are deployed in the evening and each assigned a specific zone in the 43-acre compound.
The school contracted Lavington Security, which has guards on site day and night.
According to sources, the school is provided with six guards — four men and two women.
The rape victim and two other girls have given the police a physical description of the alleged attacker. Sources around the investigations said they described a short man in his 30s. He is stout and has squinted eyes, they said.
“The description given so far does not match any of the staff members, including security guards,” a police source said.
The detectives also questioned doctors at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital who examined the girl.
The doctors will hand over a P3 form to confirm the student was raped.
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Last evening, Kilimani police officers and Nairobi Area detectives met and agreed to widen the scope of the probe.
All male teachers and workers will be questioned afresh about anybody who may have visited them on Friday night.
Addressing students and parents who had gathered at the school yesterday evening, principal Muriithi said they learnt of the assault at 5am on Saturday.
She blamed the students for not being their sister’s keeper and for not informing the administration on time.
Murithi and Nairobi Women’s Hospital CEO Sam Thenya did not respond to claims of a cover-up.
Parents criticised the school administration for its laid-back policy.
“We had to learn this on social media. The school didn’t bother to inform us about this issue. Even when we turned up the security guy had been briefed to play daft.” one parent said.