Every time my younger brother leaves the house to meet up with his friends, I am always worried. Worried that he might get into an accident. I’ve been in multiple accidents (most of them involving motorcycles), so it wouldn’t be so far-fetched to imagine that he might be involved in one. In 2016, over 2,900 people were reported to have died from road accidents, while a further 201,945 were reported to have obtained serious injuries resulting from the same. Anyway, accidents happen any and everywhere. One might as well slip in a shower and hit their head, resulting in a serious injury. So the accidents don’t worry me as much.
I’m also worried he might run into violent thugs, noting that the crime rate has recently increased in Kenya owing to the poor economic situation precipitated by the COVID19 pandemic and the mitigation measures put in place by the government. That sucks: that both the problem and solution compound the same problems. Reminds me of how chemotherapy, despite it’s use in treatment of cancer, also manifests its own health problems ranging from loss of appetite, nausea, loss of hair, fatigue, bruising and bleeding, amongst others. In the peri-urban area within which I reside, the lovely Ngong town, there’s been an increase in the number of shop break-ins during curfew hours. There’s also been an increase in the number of muggings and violent robberies. Stories are told of how machete-wielding youth lurk in the 5 am darkness waiting to pounce on all the early birds heading to their respective workplaces. Sometimes it pays to be a late bird, huh? Getting robbed on your way to work is definitely not among the recommended ways of starting one’s day. Stories are also rife as to how some of these criminal elements might be members of our “Utumishi Kwa Wote” (Service to all) forces.
Which brings me to the people who are truly the source of my fear. The police. The Kianjokoma Brothers as they have popularly been referred to by the media were Emmanuel and Benson Ndwiga, aged 19 and 22 respectively. They two brothers had just opened a pork business in Kainjokoma Town, Embu County, on the day that they were arrested by Police for flouting the 10pm curfew. Their bodies were found three days later at the Embu Level Five Hospital Mortuary, and a post-mortem examination revealed cracked skulls and ribs, severe injuries inconsistent with the original police narrative that they had jumped out of a moving police vehicle. It is clear that they were murdered by rogue officers, which is consistent with the behavior of other police officers in several parts of the country who tortured, abused and killed people over issues involving COVID19 measures.
It is on this here blog that I mentioned the story in Siaya of a woman who was arrested by an officer for failure to wear a mask, after which she was raped in the same station by said officer.
Yassin Moyo, a 13-year-old living in Kiamaiko was standing in the balcony of their third-floor home when a stray bullet struck him. He died. Why the officer was needlessly firing into the air (other reports claim that he specifically targeted the balcony) is not known. The police later claimed that what hit Yassin was a ricochet.
Hamisi Juma Mbega, a motorcycle taxi driver took a pregnant woman to hospital after curfew hours. What followed was a thorough beating by police officers, after which he died of his injuries.
Idris Mukolwe, a tomato vendor at Mumias market had reported to work despite a ban on open-air markets by the Kakamega County government. Police used teargas to disperse traders from the market. One of the cannisters hit Idris, after which he remained down only to be taunted and mocked by police officers as he struggled to stand up. He collapsed moments later and died at the scene.
These are just but a few of the incidents that resulted in death. Not all of them were reported. Furthermore, even though many did not result in fatalities, they did cause minor to severe injuries, highly unwarranted effects of police who are supposed to be legally enforcing the law.
It is a great wonder how police shield certain suspects of murder, rape, grand corruption, yet unleash terror on people flouting non-violent, non-criminal regulations such as those concerning COVID19 measures. I recall a case involving a prominent city pastor, who hit and killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence. Police officers were the primary participants in helping said pastor cover up evidence of the crime, despite multiple eye witnesses. The family of the victim could not hold their peace in court when the individual presented as the drunk driver was not the one who was behind the wheel on the fateful day.
So, you can see why I am increasingly fearful. If a pair of young budding entrepreneurs could die at the hands of rogue police elements for simply been outside past curfew hours, then how safe is any young person in Kenya. It’s not once, or twice, or even thrice that my brother has been out past curfew with friends. Could that happen to him too? Or any other youth his age? Could it happen to me?