“The Star” Journalist Who was Investigating Fertilizer Scandal Found Dead in His House
Nairobi, April 1, 2013–A correspondent for The Star daily newspaper was found dead Sunday morning in his house in the coastal city of Mombasa, local journalists told CPJ. A housemate found reporter Bernard Wesonga with blood on his nose and mouth at around 11:30 a.m., Star Deputy Editor Charles Kerich said.
Local journalists said Wesonga, 27, was with friends at a local pub in Mombasa Saturday night, leaving around 10 p.m. Wesonga had told friends he recently received anonymous threats via text message in connection with a story that described allegations of unlawful shipment and sale of fertilizer that had exceeded its expiration date, journalists said.
Authorities have not established a cause of death. Aggrey Adoli, the head of provincial police, told reporters that a coroner’s report would be released Wednesday.
“We offer our deep condolences to Bernard Wesonga’s family and colleagues, and urge the authorities to investigate his death thoroughly,” CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said.
Wesonga’s immediate supervisor, Chief Correspondent Maureen Mudi, described the victim as a hard-working reporter who had “a lot of potential and never disappointed” in his coverage. She said Wesonga had worked for the paper for a year and had undertaken several investigative stories, including a piece about illegal importation of cars.
Kenyan reporters regularly face threats and attacks, according to CPJ research, although homicides are rare. CPJ has documented one case of a Kenyan journalist killed in retaliation for his work. Francis Nyaruri, a reporter for the Weekly Citizen, was brutally murdered in western Kenya in January 2009 while investigating suspected corruption in a police construction project. The investigation has not yielded arrests.