Televangelist James Ng’ang’a was on Tuesday charged in a Kiambu court with threatening to kill journalist Linus Kaikai.
Apostle Ng’ang’a of Neno Evangelism Centre was released on a cash bail of Ksh 200,000 or a bond of Ksh 300,000 after denying issuing death threats and incitement to violence charges.
The pastor was on Monday grilled at Mazingira House, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on Kiambu Road, after being arrested the previous night.
Kaikai, who is the Strategy and Innovation Director at Royal Media Services (RMS), was threatened by Ng’ang’a, who warned him of unspecified dire consequences after he took on rogue pastors and demanded for regulation of religious organisations.
“We are dealing with thieves, not men of God. These are cold blooded evangelical vampires living off the blood of their flock in the name of Jesus. They are conmen who must have their date with our police and our law courts,” Kaikai had said in an editorial during the News Gang programme on Citizen TV.
In a video clip posted on social media, Ng’ang’a told Kaikai : “Wewe kijana wachana na mambo zako… na kama umeingia laini ya Pastor Ng’ang’a, my friend you will face the consequences…wewe utakimbia tu (Young man, stop your nonsense. If you’ve decided to cross Pastor Ng’ang’a’s line, my friend you will face the consequences. You will have to run).”
The journalist subsequently filed a complaint with the DCI. The attack followed another hard-hitting statement by a caucus of 10 evangelical bishops, who termed the language used in Kaikai’s editorial as “dirty, arrogant, highly disrespectful, derogatory and very provocative.”
“We demand that this unwarranted attack on God’s servants cannot be tolerated and we demand an apology from the media house where the said journalist works,” it said.
“It is ideological arrogance for the likes of Kaikai to imagine that the only right way to worship is how they imagine to be correct… singling out the church is harassment and we cannot stand for it,” the statement added
However, media stakeholders accused religious leaders for intimidating media, saying it is against the law for anyone to stand in the way of journalists doing their work.
In a joint statement from the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), the Media Council of Kenya (MCK) and the Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA), the media said it wants to raise the attention of the National Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as to what it termed as “direct threats to journalists as well as online bullying from their followers.”
“It is not only against fundamental human rights but unacceptable and a breach of the law for the religious leaders to stand in the way of the work of journalists, including issuing threats that are meant to scare media from holding them accountable,” the joint statement read.
Under the Kenya Media Sector Working Group (KMSWG), the journalists claimed the “religious leaders and formations with questionable credentials” are now training their guns on the media by “harassing journalists and curtailing free media in Kenya.”
KMSWG said: “Media as the Fourth Estate has a duty to hold other estates, including the clergy, to account for their actions. The work of religious leaders impacts the society and the media must interrogate them on behalf of the public, which the two institutions serve, without fear or favour.”