Editorial: Public has right to know the truth

By Dylan Thorne

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The public deserves an explanation on the circumstances surrounding the Kenyan minivan crash that tragically claimed the lives of four people.

Unfortunately, Bethlehem College has been less than forthcoming on conflicting accounts of what occurred when the vehicle crashed on Kenya's notorious Nairobi-Murang'a highway.

Former Bethlehem College student Caitlin Dickson, 19, school parents Brian and Grace Johnston, and Kenyan national Christopher Mmata were killed in the crash.

The release of information in the aftermath of the crash was carefully controlled through a series of press conferences and by the school hiring a PR consultant. This was partially funded by the taxpayer.

Initially, it was reported that Mr Mmata was driving but Bethlehem College student David Fellows later admitted he was at the wheel when the crash occurred after a driver swap. In a surprise twist, this week it was revealed that Kenyan police believe Mr Mmata was driving the van despite Mr Fellows' confession.

Principal Eoin Crosbie this week declined to comment on the conflicting reports, referring the Bay of Plenty Times to board of trustees chairman and local lawyer Greg Hollister-Jones.

I was surprised by Mr Crosbie's comment that the Kenyan police investigation was "nothing to do with us".

Of course it has, and I'm sure the school, which has hired its own private investigator to investigate the matter, is taking a keen interest in any development in the Kenyan police investigation.

Equally surprising was Mr Hollister-Jones' comment that the school accepted the Kenyan police version of events, despite Mr Fellows' confession .

He said the school had to accept the Kenyan police conclusion and it was not for the school to second guess it.

What is going on here?

There are a still string of unanswered questions in the case: Why was the principal of the school not informed about the alleged driver swap until more than a week after the accident? Why did the driver swap, if it occurred at all, take place? Who authorised the driver swap? Why are Kenyan police now saying Mr Mmata was driving, despite Mr Fellows earlier admission? Why did the college claim the school's liaison representative, Calvine Ominde, told Mr Fellows to keep quiet about the driver swap when Mr Ominde denies doing so?

This crash has had tragic ramifications for the families who lost loved ones and for those injured, when the van off the road and this must be remembered as the search for answers to what happened that day continues.

The school needs to understand the deep public interest in the circumstances of this tragedy and start supplying some answers.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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