TWO Kenyan journalists have filed a complaint with the regulatory body complaining of intimidation by a vernacular radio morning show presenter, writes Denns Itumbi for journalism.co.za


The two Rift Valley reporters, Peter Ng'etich (Nation Media Group) and Mathews Ndanyi (Radio Africa), said in a signed statement to the Media Council that the presenter waged a smear campaign by interpreting stories on his talk show and misleading listeners of his popular Kass FM radio station.

Kass FM broadcasts in the Kalenjin dialect and has been twice indicted for fanning tribal animosity alongside three other vernacular radio stations by the Waki Commission probing the Post Election violence and the Johan Kriegler commission that investigated the disputed 2007 Presidential elections.

In their letter, the duo say, "we feel that he mentioned the names in bad light and his actions are in bad light and against the journalism code of ethics and conduct."

"By doing so, he exposed the journalists to public debate in a manner that was likely to cause them harm from listeners /readers," the joint letter read.

The letter further sought quick intervention from the Media Council, "we feel that the presenter's action were in bad faith and unless the council intervenes, we will be harmed or any other member of the council may face danger especially those working in Rift Valley where the station has majority listeners."

The journalists expressed fear of being attacked especially in the run up to the expected constitutional referendum next year and the succession political campaigns of 2012.

The letter also cites an incident where the presenter, Joshua Arap Sang, while acting as a master of ceremonies during the inauguration of a Kalenjin Council of Elders, allegedly threatened The Star reporter Mathews Ndanyi that he would burn his fingers if he wrote negatively about the meeting.

Interestingly in their report on the post election violence, Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR) published last year, Sang was the only journalist named as having incited listeners to come out of their houses and fight, "war has broken out what are you waiting for?"

A religious leader who delivered sermons in the station during the time was also named in the KNHCR report for inciting communities against each other through the radio broadcasts.