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Our children and men didn’t have to die, mothers lament

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By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Death in the hands of police officers has become a common occurrence. In many instances the officers have claimed that the victims, most of them in their teens, were thugs who were unwilling to surrender but witnesses and relatives have a different story.

Mothers and widows of these victims are now saying enough is enough and are calling for accountability. In many of these cases the narrative is the same. A young man going about his duties. Police officers apprehend him. Victim disappears. Body is found in a mortuary with bullet wound.

Mr Brian Liuva Ondeko woke up on August 21, 2014 as usual and took breakfast before going to Gikomba market, Nairobi, where he was to get more stock of his second-hand shoes.

The shoe dealer in Kawangware, Nairobi, delivered the shoes to a friend identified as Simon.

His mother — Rose Owira — was informed later in the evening that he had been killed by police officers. The following day Ms Owira, accompanied by her husband and a neighbour went to City Mortuary and identified the body. A post mortem report that was carried out on August 29, 2014 showed that Ondeko succumbed to multiple gunshot injuries in the head and chest.

The family further made a report to Independent Policing Oversight Authority but to date they are yet to be informed of the outcome of the investigations.

Joseph Kahara, 17, was allegedly shot dead by police officers on the morning of May 27, 2017. According to Ms Milka Wanjiku, her son was shot by police officers at Mlango Kubwa area in Pangani, Nairobi.

Upon receiving the news, Ms Wanjiku went to the scene and saw her son lying next to another body.

She said the police at the scene failed to respond to queries on why her son was gunned down forcing her to seek answers at Pangani Police Station. She and other family members were, however, turned away and asked to go and look for his body at City Mortuary.

Lincoln Ambundo was out playing football with his friends at Huruma Sports ground, Nairobi, on May 13, 2014 when he was killed.

His mother Evalini Ilusa said the 16-year-old left the house in a jovial mood and joined his friends for the day’s practice. But he met his death at the hands of the police alongside three other boys. But since then, the family has never been informed why he was killed.

Mr Richard Kisilu, aged 19, was a jua kali artisan who was shot dead on December 27, 2017 in Kariobangi. His family said Kisilu crafted Maasai sandals with a business entity known as Eco Sandals.

Mr Kisilu’s body had been riddled with bullets and a Facebook page known as “Black Widow” showed his body and a firearm and several phones next to him.

Mr Paul Munyoki, 19, was allegedly killed by the police as he attended a funeral gathering for one of his close friends at Mlango Kubwa in Mathare, Nairobi, on January 31, 2016.

The police however said that Mr Munyoki was shot dead at the scene of a robbery where a homemade gun was recovered.

Simon Nganga Mbeti was arrested and taken into custody on August 21, 2014 by police officers from Kabete Police Station, Kiambu, for allegedly aiding and abetting robbery suspects.

At the time of his arrest, the 22-year-old was ferrying passengers using his brother’s taxi.

The following day, the officers said he and another suspect had escaped from custody and that they did not know where he was. After a long search, they found his body at the City Mortuary.

On April 19, 2016, a neighbour called the police saying there were armed robbers outside his compound. Two police officers arrived and in a few minutes, eight men lay dead at a playing field in Mukuru Kwa Ruben Slums around Industrial Area, Nairobi. The call was made at around 8pm and the men shot dead were aged between 16 and 26 years.

Mr Peter Ndegwa, 19, was minding his business when he was confronted by police officers on March 7, last year. Witnesses said the police officers shot him dead unprovoked and placed a toy pistol next to his lifeless body.

Police, however said Mr Ndegwa was part of the notorious thugs who were robbing the public in Kayole, Nairobi. They said they recovered a toy pistol and two mobile phones. These and other cases of police killings have been documented and two NGOs have filed a petition seeking to know how they were killed.

The mothers and widows of 23 men who were allegedly executed by the police in the last four years now want the court to compel the government to establish a commission of inquiry on cases of extrajudicial killings and the use of excessive force by officers.

While calling for a thorough investigation into the alleged killings, the widows and mothers through Mothers and Widows of EJKS, a self-help group that comprises the families of persons who were allegedly gunned down by the police and International Justice Mission (IJM) insist that they have to know the truth on how their sons and husbands met the deaths.

“Truth is the primary value in the administration of justice and in instances where use of force is utilised by police officers, the truth can only be established through prompt, thorough and impartial investigations,” reads part of the petition filed last week.

The group accuses the Inspector General of Police of failing in his constitutional obligation to investigate instances where the use of force by police officers led to death, in total violation of Article 244(c) of the Constitution and the National Police Service Act.

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