Arrest rogue netizens, Health CS Kagwe tells police
Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah
In a dramatic turn of events, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has asked police to arrest social media users—commonly known as keyboard warriors—for allegedly trivialising the fight against Coronavirus.
Kagwe, who has enjoyed popular support among Kenyans and netizens in particular since he was appointed on February 28, was yesterday on the warpath; incensed by attacks directed at Covid-19 survivor Brenda Cherotich.
A visibly angry Kagwe warned social media users, during his daily brief, to stop making fun of efforts to contain the spread of the disease terming some of the claims as outlandish and unpalatable.
“It is archaic and retrogressive for anybody to trivialise the lives of Kenyans.
And, I condemn in the strongest terms any person who attempts to do so,” he said, adding: “I appeal to our enforcement agencies to arrest social media users; it is wrong and should never happen.”
The Cabinet Secretary dismissed claims that the government was playing public relations gimmicks by presenting the two recovered patients in a live TV show.
“A PR exercise? Really? Why would a government in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and other inter-governmental organisations decide to make a PR exercise with two innocent Kenyans,?” he posed.
On Wednesday, Kagwe presented Brenda and Brian Orinda to Kenyans having fully recovered from Coronavirus following three weeks of treatment at Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi.
The two were later addressed by President Uhuru Kenyatta via a video link that was beamed live by TV and radio stations.
Brenda, 26, said she might have contracted the virus while travelling back from US where she attended her brother’s graduation. She landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 5.
“I went to the US on December 19 and when I finished my stay I travelled to Cleveland and then to Chicago where I had a 10-hour layover.
I then went to London and this is where I think I may have contracted the virus or on the plane while coming back home,” said Brenda.
A former beauty pageant who clinched Miss Tourism (Kericho) in 2018, Brenda said she developed symptoms similar to those associated with Coronavirus shortly after she arrived in the country.
“I voluntarily went to Mbagathi Hospital as a responsible Kenyan and was confirmed positive and I have since been treated and discharged after 23 days in isolation,” she said.
The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Multimedia University of Kenya Information and Telecommunication Engineering graduate also urged Kenyans to strictly adhere to directives issued by the government.
She said the only way to beat the virus is by maintaining social distancing, hand wash, and staying at home. But a few hours later, social media was abuzz with claims that she had lied but she brushed them off.
“Twitter DCI, use the same energy you are digging on me to sensitise people on physical distancing and personal hygiene, which will go a long way in combating #COVID19Pandemic #WeShallOvercomeCorona,” she tweeted.
She said that she was wrongly being targeted by “haters” and vowed it would not stop her from enlightening Kenyans on the dangers posed by Covid-19 and how to avoid it.
The move by Kagwe to call for the arrest of social media users attacking Brenda and spreading lies about the coronavirus further generated heated debate online.
“BRAVO, CS Kagwe! Remember what Mzee Kibaki taught us: “...In every MARKET PLACE, there is a MAD Man”. The MAD Men have LEFT the MARKET Place and bought REAL-ESTATE in social media.
Attacking Brenda will not change the FACT that she RECOVERED from COVID-19. Her attackers MAY NOT!” renowned political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi tweeted.
“CS Kagwe has picked a battle with social media users that he is guaranteed to lose…” said human rights activist Boniface Mwangi.