It seems Kenyans will now have to be extra careful over the kind of news they share on social media. This was made clear on Saturday when two men were arrested over a Facebook post spreading fake news about CS Fred Matiang’i.
The two, Emmanuel Kimutai, 31 and Kibet Yego, 19 were picked from their home in Ngeria area, Uasin Gishu County. This is after detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) spotted the post that claims that the Interior Cabinet Secretary was admitted to hospital after contracting COVID-19.
This, according to the police, was false information about the senior government official prompting the arrest.
Police said that the two are under custody being interrogated in Eldoret and are expected to be arraigned next week. The DCI detectives confiscated a laptop and mobile phone linked to the publication of the social media post by the suspects.
The arrest came about a day after Dr Matiang’i dismissed claims about him contracting COVID-19. He blamed the rumours on individuals he described as “mentally deranged” and keen on distracting him from his job.
“I have told the DCI and the Inspector General of Police and they are trying to investigate. We hope that we shall get to the bottom of the situation,” he said in an interview at his Harambee House office on Friday.
As expected, KOT had risen up on Twitter earlier telling the official to not take the claims personally. True to it, we have seen many reports in the past few months claiming that other public figures and politicians have contracted the virus.
CS Matiangi has called on DCI to investigate his ICU admission claims. In other words, people might be arrested. But what is easier? Appearing & telling people you are okay or fighting to show you are? Matiangi is a public servant & I think the public has a right to worry.
— Juma G ?? (@jumaf3_) July 25, 2020
Cs Matiangi is drunk with power. Arresting bloggers is the most childish thing any leader can order. Were those bloggers the first to write rumours about a leader? Mature ones don't follow, Or they don't have jobless puppies in uniform to arrest the bloggers
— Warui Komba (@komba_warui) July 26, 2020
Even his fellow leader rise up to condemn the official’s sentiments.
Nonsense.Kwani our wives and children who are daily subjected to false reports are trees ? https://t.co/JKGzaUSNNK
— KIPCHUMBA MURKOMEN, E.G.H (@kipmurkomen) July 26, 2020
Update on 30/07/2020
Isaac Kibe, one of the culprits was reportedly arraigned in court. The case ended up in a KES 50,000 cash bail charged against Kibet. According to the judge, Kibet was charged with falsely posting online that Interior CS Matiang’i was down with COVID-19.