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Report:Westgate looters egged on by bad law

Soldiers who looted property at Westgate Mall took advantage of a security lophole in the law, a report has said.

The Kenya Veterans Association, an organisation of retired military officers said the disgraced officers were well aware of the gap introduced when the Armed Forces Act was repealed last year.

According to Stanley Muigai Kiama, the group’s secretary general, the new Kenya Defence Forces Act, has revoked the powers of the Service Commander to inspect troops upon the completion of operation. This power had been explicitly spelt out in the repealed law.

Rampant looting

“The troops that were deployed at the Westgate Mall on September 21, were well aware that they were not subject to the control and inspection upon exiting the scene, hence the rampant looting,” said Mr Muigai.

He spoke on Wednesday at Parliament Buildings when he presented the association’s probe report before a Parliamentary committee.

After a lot of public criticism, the Chief of the Defence Forces, General Julius Karangi, last month admitted that some of the KDF soldiers were involved in looting in the aftermath of the terror attack by al-Shabaab terrorists.

More than 70 people died and 200 more injured during the four-day siege.

Those sacked and jailed were identified as Victor Otieno and Victor Ashihundu. Another identified as Mr Isaiah Wanjala Kulumba is being investigated. They were allegedly found with phones, cameras and battery chargers.

The veterans want the KDF Act repealed. They want it the Parliament to enact legislation that establishes a KDF in line with the Constitution and serves the collective interests of Kenyans.

A new, legislation, the association says is also needed to coordinate joint operations between different security agencies in times of emergencies.