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Kenyan Soldiers Arrested for Looting WestGate Mall

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Two Kenyan soldiers have been fired and jailed for looting while they were on duty during the Westgate Siege in Nairobi, Kenya’s Capital, last month. A third is still being investigated over the same charges. Reports of looting came shortly after shop owners in the upmarket mall were able to return to their businesses, only to find ATMS and safe riddled with bullets, prised open, jewelry stolen and displays broken.  The owners of cafes reported that their alcoholic drinks were all consumed, and all this apparently occurred while the mall was under the control of the Kenya Defense Forces soldiers. This reports were vehemently denied by the Army’s Chief of Staff and the soldiers were cleared of any wrongdoing by a parliamentary committee that was investigating them.

However, some CCTV footage surfaced, showing at least 8 soldiers going into the supermarket with nothing but their weapons but leaving with shopping bags stashed with some unidentified items. The Chief of Staff claimed that the soldiers were carrying water from the supermarket on the orders of their commanding officers, and nothing else. The CCTV footage also showed a soldier attempting to prise a safe, while others were breaking jewelry displays; these were all described by the Chief of Staff as “sanitizing the area” for their safety. Other soldiers were recorded yanking phones from a display unit.

Shortly after the looting reports had raised a furor in Kenya, an Army spokesman reported that KES. 300 million (about $3.5 million) had been in the custody of the Army for safekeeping, and requested the facilities that reported looting or vandalism to make a report with the military.

Given that the military has already admitted that some members looted during the sieged which claimed more than 70 lives, it remains to be seen whether there will be a proper review of the circumstances leading to the death of some security officers, as it was reported that the army barged in without proper coordination, resulting in a firefight with a specialist unit from the paramilitary General Service Unit.  A local expose also suggested that the army units fought amongst themselves, and when they were done with looting, chose to bring down the mall to bury the evidence.

All these are matters of interest to many.

By Matengo Chwanya

Sources: telegraph/ capitalfm/ aljazeera/ standardmedia/ standardmedia/