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South Korean sect leader apologises over coronavirus spread

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The elderly leader of a secretive South Korean sect linked to more than half the country’s 4,000-plus coronavirus cases knelt before the cameras Monday to apologise for the spread of the disease.

Shincheonji head Lee Man-hee’s plea for forgiveness came after Seoul city authorities filed a murder complaint against him for failing to cooperate in containing the epidemic.

South Korea’s case numbers — the largest total anywhere outside China — are expected to rise further as authorities carry out checks on more than 266,000 people associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, which is often condemned as a cult.

“I would like to offer my sincere apology to the people,” said Lee, his voice breaking.

“Although it was not intentional, many people have been infected,” the 88-year-old said, twice bowing his head to the floor before reporters in Gapyeong.

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“I seek the forgiveness of the people. I am very thankful to the government for its efforts,” he added. “I also seek the forgiveness of the government.”

Lee is revered by his followers as the “Promised Pastor” who has taken on the mantle of Jesus Christ and will take 144,000 people with him to heaven on the Day of Judgement, which he will usher in within his own lifetime.

A 61-year-old female member developed a fever on February 10 but attended at least four services in Daegu — the country’s fourth-largest city with a population of 2.5 million and the centre of the outbreak — before being diagnosed.

At worship Shincheonji members sit close together on the floor and pray extensively in what critics say creates an ideal environment to spread viral infections.

Lee — whose organisation says he has tested negative for the virus — insisted that the group was “actively cooperating with the government”.

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“At churches, the leader of the church is like a parent and its members are the children,” he said, pausing occasionally to wipe tears from his eyes as protesters shouted abuse.

“What parent would stand by and watch when there is such a scary disease that could even lead to death? Wouldn’t they try to fix it?”

Seoul’s city government has asked prosecutors to press charges including homicide against Lee and 11 other leaders after the sect was accused of submitting false lists of its members to authorities.

For its part, the group says members face social stigma and discrimination if their beliefs become publicly known, dissuading some from responding to official inquiries.

Prosecutors have assigned the Seoul City request for investigation, Yonhap news agency reported.

Seoul mayor Park Won-soon added on his Facebook page: “If they had actively taken early measures, we could have prevented the explosive rise of Covid-19 cases in Daegu and North Gyeongbuk province and the deaths of several people.”

South Korea confirmed 599 new coronavirus cases Monday, taking the total to 4,335, health authorities said, while the death toll rose to 26.

Around 60 per cent of the infections are linked to Shincheonji.

The country’s central bank has warned of a contraction in the world’s 12th-largest economy in the first quarter, noting the epidemic will hit both consumption and exports.

Scores of events have been cancelled or postponed over the contagion and the education ministry said school and kindergarten breaks, which had already been extended nationwide to next Monday, will be lengthened by a further two weeks.

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Stop beating Kenyans during curfew, leaders tell police : The Standard

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Leaders across the political divide have condemned the brutality meted out on Kenyans by police officers who were enforcing a government’s curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus diseases.
Led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, the leaders said the action of the police as was witnessed on Friday evening defeated the very purpose of the curfew. 
The Elegeyo Marakwet senator said the police action, endangered the lives of many Kenyans, saying lumping people together could have led to more infections if one of them was suffering from coronavirus.
SEE ALSO :China virus cases spike, 17 new infections reported“Before we even discuss the violence, if any of them was positive, he or she must have infected so many. This is primitive,” he said, adding that if one or two of the Kenyans in this crowd were positive,  then the multiplying effect will be catastrophic.
He told Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to borrow a leaf from his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe by providing leadership and instilling order and discipline among the officers during the curfew.
“CS Kagwe has demonstrated great leadership during the coronavirus outbreak with timely updates to Kenyans, those charge of our security must take the queue and enforce the curfew with a human face while respecting the rule law, he said adding that the action of the police as was witnessed in Likoni and other parts of our country is counterproductive.
For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.   Read Now »
He said the curfew was declared by President Uhuru Kenyatta to curb the spread of the coronavirus and not to torture Kenyans.
Murkomen said the officers must stop acting like they harbour grudges against Kenyans and the curfew has provided them with an opportunity to revenge.
SEE ALSO :China confirms virus spreading between humans“The curfew is meant to curb the spread of coronavirus not to torture Kenyans. The security managers are behaving as though they have a grudge against Kenyans and are curfew as an excuse for revenge. It must stop forthwith,” said Murkomen.
Siaya Senator and Senate Minority Leader James Orengo told off the police for violating the rights of Kenyans in the name of enforcing a curfew, adding that the curfew has not suspended the law.
“A state of emergency does not by itself ineluctably limit or suspend the Bill of Rights. There must be legislation. In any case, national security must be pursued in compliance with the rule of law and human rights. Police must not enforce the curfew with might but love and fight Covid-19,” Orengo tweeted
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi told the police to spare Kenyans the beating saying majority of citizens are already economically distressed and that any brutality will break their hearts.
Mudavadi said what Kenyans want in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic is love and civility and not the brutality witnessed on Friday.
SEE ALSO :Factbox: What we know about the new coronavirus spreading in China and beyond “Kenyans are already economically distressed and now terrified of covid-19. They need help and guidance. Enforcement of the curfew does not mean terror and brutality to the mwanainchi. Treat the citizenry with civility,” said Mudavadi
Nandi Governor Stephen Sang condemned the brutality and told the law enforcers not to confuse Kenyans with the coronavirus.
“Police brutality witnessed this evening across the country is unacceptable. Police must not appear to confuse wanainchi for coronavirus. Even as we urge Kenyans to adhere to the directives and guidelines issued by the government, rule of law and common sense must prevail at all times,” said Governor Sang.
Cases of police brutality have been witnessed in certain parts of the country as the nationwide curfew took effect on Friday evening.
Police spokesman Charles Owino has however defended the officers, saying there was no brutality as being claimed.
SEE ALSO :Travelers to be screened for ‘Chinese’ coronavirus- GovernmentSpeaking on one of the TV stations on Friday night, Owino said the police are well trained and knows when to use force and to what extent and that what was witnessed was the enforcement of the law.
He cautioned Kenyans against ignoring the curfew, saying they will not hesitate to arrest anyone flouting the directives.
“If you walk at night, we will arrest you. We have enough cells. If the cell in Central is full, we will take you to Kayole. If it is full, we will even take you to Machakos,” he said.
Police and commuters clashed at the Likoni ferry in Mombasa Friday afternoon, a scenario occasioned by overcrowding as residents rushed to beat the curfew deadline.
The situation was no different in Kisumu and Eldoret towns as police teargassed Kenyans for flouting the curfew rules.
Photos and clips of police beating up Kenyans who allegedly failed to adhere to the curfew emerged online with netizens condemning the police for using excessive force in handling Kenyans.

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Stop brutalising Kenyans during curfew, leaders tell police : The Standard

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Leaders across the political divide have condemned the brutality meted out on Kenyans by police officers who were enforcing a government’s curfew to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Led by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, the leaders said the action of the police as was witnessed on Friday evening defeated the very purpose of the curfew. 
Police and commuters clashed at the Likoni ferry in Mombasa Friday afternoon, a scenario occasioned by overcrowding as residents rushed to beat the curfew deadline.
SEE ALSO :China virus cases spike, 17 new infections reportedThe situation was not different in Kisumu and Eldoret towns as police teargassed Kenyans for flouting the curfew rules.
Photos and clips of police beating up Kenyans who allegedly failed to adhere to the curfew emerged online with netizens condemning the police for using excessive force in handling Kenyans.
The Elegeyo Marakwet senator said the police action, endangered the lives of many Kenyans, saying lumping people together could have led to more infections if one of them had contracted coronavirus.
For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.   Read Now »
“Before we even discuss the violence, if any of them was positive, he or she must have infected so many. This is primitive,” he said, adding that if one or two of the Kenyans in this crowd were positive,  then the multiplying effect will be catastrophic.
He told Interior CS Fred Matiang’i to borrow a leaf from his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe by providing leadership and instilling order and discipline among the officers during the curfew.
SEE ALSO :China confirms virus spreading between humans“CS Kagwe has demonstrated great leadership during the coronavirus outbreak with timely updates to Kenyans, those in charge of our security must take the queue and enforce the curfew with a human face while respecting the rule of law.”
Murkomen added that the action of the police as was witnessed in Likoni and other parts of the country is counterproductive.
He said the curfew was declared by President Uhuru Kenyatta to curb the spread of coronavirus, not to torture Kenyans.
Murkomen said officers must stop acting like they havea a grudge against Kenyans and the curfew has provided them with an opportunity for revenge.
Siaya Senator and Senate Minority Leader James Orengo told off the police for violating the rights of Kenyans in the name of enforcing a curfew..
SEE ALSO :Factbox: What we know about the new coronavirus spreading in China and beyond“A state of emergency does not by itself ineluctably limit or suspend the Bill of Rights. There must be legislation. In any case, national security must be pursued in compliance with the rule of law and human rights. Police must not enforce the curfew with might but love and fight Covid-19,” Orengo tweeted
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi told the police to spare Kenyans the beating, saying majority of citizens are already economically distressed and that any brutality will break their hearts.
Mudavadi said what Kenyans want in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic is love and civility and not the brutality witnessed on Friday.
“Enforcement of the curfew does not mean terror and brutality to the mwanainchi. Treat the citizenry with civility,” said Mudavadi
Nandi Governor Stephen Sang condemned the brutality and told the law enforcers not to confuse Kenyans with the coronavirus.
SEE ALSO :Travelers to be screened for ‘Chinese’ coronavirus- Government“Police brutality witnessed this evening across the country is unacceptable. Police must not appear to confuse wananchi for coronavirus. Even as we urge Kenyans to adhere to the directives and guidelines issued by the government, rule of law and common sense must prevail at all times,” said Governor Sang.
Cases of police brutality have been witnessed in certain parts of the country as the nationwide curfew took effect on Friday evening.
Police spokesman Charles Owino has however defended the officers, saying there was no brutality as being claimed.
Speaking on one of the TV stations on Friday night, Owino said the police are well trained and know when to use force and to what extent.
He cautioned Kenyans against ignoring the curfew, saying they will not hesitate to arrest anyone flouting the directives.
“If you walk at night, we will arrest you. We have enough cells. If the cell in Central is full, we will take you to Kayole. If it is full, we will even take you to Machakos,” he said.

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Baringo senior cop educates locals on coronavirus during curfew : The Standard

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The imposition of the dusk to dawn curfew began and not a single person except those providing essential services was to be seen roaming.
While the rod was not spared by most officers across the country while enforcing the curfew, a senior officer from Baringo used a different approach.
 
Baringo Central Sub-County Administration Police Commander Ibrahim Abachilla did not use a whip to ensure people were not on the streets.
 
He took advantage of the opportunity to educate the residents on the importance of handwashing.
 
Armed with a sanitiser and a swagger stick, Abachilla assembled motorists and travellers caught up in the curfew.
 
He talked to them about the government’s directives and the need to obey them.
 
Travellers had to alight from their vehicles, sanitise their hands and talk about keeping safe from the coronavirus.
 
“Get to your homes and stay inside. Don’t be late again as the government has announced a curfew.”
 
Abachilla also urged matatu operators to keep a sanitiser close by for the passengers’ use.
 
He called them out on being key players in the success of the curfew, saying they should be aware of the working hours.
 
The imposition of the dusk to dawn curfew started on Friday, and not a single person, except those providing essential services, was to be seen roaming.
 
Armed police officers walked the streets of various towns to ensure people obeyed the order to be indoors between 7pm and 5am.
 
Those found faced the wrath of the officers armed with whips.
 
In Nakuru, residents vacated the streets as early as 6pm.
 
Motorist caught having defied the orders of the curfew had it rough.

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