Kepha Nyambane, 31, daringly jumped on to the road and stopped the presidential motorcade
Zadock Angira and Nyaboga Kiage
Before his daring yet dangerous stunt in Nairobi’s Lucky Summer estate on Wednesday, Kepha Nyambane, 31, was your typical Nairobi Eastlands lay-about, doing menial jobs to make ends meet.
On that day, the married father of three caused a serious security breach when he jumped onto the road and stopped the presidential motorcade, catching the security officers off-guard.
It took close to 12 seconds for the man, who stood right in front of the vehicle carrying President Uhuru Kenyatta, forcing the driver to break, to be whisked away.
“He is a just a jamaa wa mtaa, he lives with his wife and three children and does small time jobs to feed his family,” said a detective who was in the team that interrogated Nyambane over the incident.
Yesterday, the Nairobi regional police commander Augustine Nthumbi noted that even though there was a security breach, the officers acted in good time and no ugly incident was witnessed.
He, however, admitted that the response time was a bit delayed. “There was no way the officers could jump on the road before the vehicles stopped. That is why there was that delay of about 10 seconds,” he said.
The vehicle ahead of the President’s, carrying National Intelligence Service agents, had passed when the man rushed to the middle of the road.
The presidential guards jumped out of vehicles following the President’s and shoved the man away, as a visibly shaken Uhuru, who sat on the co-driver seat, quickly rolled up the car window.
Yesterday, Nthumbi said the man did not pose any threat to the Head of State.
“He was arrested and interrogated but we did not find anything that would warrant his arraignment. He was probably acting out of excitement.”
The police commander, however, said they sometimes experience challenges in crowd control.
“Whenever officers are assigned duties, it is sometimes difficult to deploy everywhere,” he said.
Experts attributed the incident to a number of factors, including the fact that there was only one uniformed officer for crowd control.
“There was a bump and the motorcade was bound to slow down. The slower the vehicles the more vulnerable VIPs can be.
The man must have noted this loophole and decided to block the motorcade at that very spot,” said George Musamali, a former General Service Unit officer and a security expert.
Incident happened just six days after Uhuru’s security detail was forced to fend off an intruder who tried to reach the President in Lamu County.
Intruder struck as the President was reading his speech at the main dais, moments after commissioning Kenya’s newest port in Lamu.
The aide de camp, who swiftly moved from his normal position to the President’s left, first noticed the man.
Visibly shocked President momentarily paused his speech and slightly moved backwards from the microphone.
However, undercover security agents swiftly intercepted the man and removed him from the area.
Experts maintain that officers close to the President must be highly trained in order to cope with threats in all kinds of surroundings, and be able to implement security measures efficiently anywhere, any time.
According to Andrew Gitau, a security lecturer at Masinde Muliro University, the advance security party usually gives intelligence on the security situation, which informs deployment.
“Before such meetings the officers should analyse the risk in the areas in question and develop security plans adequately,” he said.
This may include assigning adequate officers on crowd control, closure of roads, deployment of undercover snipers at strategic locations, depending on the level of threats.
Owing to evolving threats, the President’s protection cannot be limited to keeping his physical body from harm.
“In the past, there were no mechanisms in place to provide security with a continuous stream of intelligence data that could enable proactive measures. Such breaches would occur then the security detail would react to them,” he said.
“Some of the attacks have been obvious and could have been prevented. It is unconceivable how the man walked all the way to where Raila and the area governor Salim Mvurya sat,” Gitau said.
Besides physical security being threatened, VIPs may also be exposed to publicly embarrassing situations like in the case where former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was attacked in Kinango, Kwale County.
A week before the Raila attack, a man wielding a machete was shot dead as he attempted to attack Ndia MP Stephen Ngare in Ngando Primary School, Kirinyaga County.
Wednesday’s incident was similar to a March 2019 case when an unknown man ran towards a car carrying the Moroccan king shortly after the arrival of Pope Francis in the country.
According to Dan Emmett, a former US Secret Service agent with first-person experience in the presidential security details of three former presidents, there cannot be a worse tragedy for the nation than losing a president.
Just like in the US, there was a time when security experts were worried about the safety of President Barack Obama due to mounting lapses in protection and disclosures of misconduct.
For Obama, there were lapses in protection witnessed in some of his visits to other countries and even at the White House with some experts saying his second term was not as secure as it had been in the previous years.