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Cop who was sacked in Westgate saga reinstated

A senior police officer who was sacked while leading a GSU crack team during last year’s Westgate Mall siege by Al-Shabaab terrorists has gotten back his job.

Mr James Mwaniki, who was a  senior assistant commissioner of police, was informed of his reinstatement through a letter dated December 8.

His reinstatement has been backdated to September 3, 2013 the same day his dismissal letter was signed.

“Please inform Mr James Mwaniki Thathi S/ACP that he has been reinstated into service with effect from 3/9/2013,” the letter signed by K.S. Kitoo on behalf of the Deputy Inspector- General Grace Kaindi states.

The letter is addressed to the GSU headquarters where Mr Mwaniki served as the general staff officer.

The reinstatement comes after the Industrial Court on October 17 ordered that he resumes his duties at the GSU. The court had found that Mr Mwaniki was “unprocedurally and wrongfully” removed from service.

COURT ORDER

Ms Kaindi’s letter also comes after Mr Mwaniki’s lawyer Edwin Gichovi on November 28 wrote to the Commission on Administrative Justice (Office of the Ombudsman) as well as the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) seeking their intervention to have the Kenya Police Service comply with the court order.

Mr Mwaniki was among the first top officers to respond to the Westgate attack, leading a crack GSU unit that took on the terrorists before differences with the military jeopardized the operation.

He would remain outside the mall for six days without knowing that he had been sacked weeks earlier even as he put his life on the line fighting the Al Shabaab.

His account of the sacking which he narrated to Sunday Nation on the first anniversary of the Westgate attack on September 21 was that he was not aware of any disciplinary action against him.

His dismissal letter alleged indiscipline and drunkenness that were said to inhibit his performance as the reasons for being relieved of his duties.

Interestingly, his removal from service was dated September 3, 2013, yet the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) allegedly met on September 11, 2013 which was when the decision was made.

DOUBLE TRAGEDY

The Westgate attack was a double tragedy for Mr Mwaniki who also lost his brother-in-law Martin Munene Kithinji in the shoot-out.

It remains unclear whether NPSC will demand that he goes through the police vetting exercise as officers of his rank had been vetted.

Furthermore, the reinstatement letter fails to clarify which rank Mr Mwaniki will occupy after the commission in October scrapped several senior police ranks.

Instead, the reinstatement letter only states that “He should report on duty awaiting deployment.”

The commission scrapped the ranks of Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, Assistant Commissioner of Police and Senior Superintendent of Police.

The ranks were replaced by the senior assistant inspector general of police and assistant inspector general, according to the National Police Service Act.