Pulse Editorial: Every life matters, We must end police brutality in Kenya

Every Life Matters!

Police brutality (Courtesy)

There has been unrest across the world with millions taking to the streets to protest against police brutality. This was triggered by the death of African-American George Floyd, who died in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer held a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

After phone recorded video emerged online documenting how Floyd was arrested by the officers involved, people from several countries took to the streets to protest over cases of police brutality in their countries which are on the rise.

In Martin Luther King's words, "An Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Police brutality is not a new song in the ears of Kenyans, and this is the second time in two months that we are here writing about the same, the only difference being that the number of casualties has increased fivefold within the period.

The first time it was 13 year-old Yasin Moyo who was hit by a police bullet while at the balcony of their home, Hamisi Juma Kambiliwa who had taken a pregnant woman to hospital and Ramadhan Juma from Kakamega, who died after allegedly being assaulted by curfew enforcing police officers. Right now, the number stands at 15, according to an official report released last week by The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA).

"After preliminary investigations, 15 deaths and 31 incidents where victims sustained injuries have directly been linked to actions of police officers during the curfew enforcement," said IPOA Chairperson Ann Makori.

According to the oversight authority, the number is from 87 complaints IPOA received since the beginning of the dusk to dawn curfew on March 27, 2020.

The latest of these murders is that of a homeless man known as Vaite who was reportedly shot dead in Mathare by curfew enforcing police. Vaite worked as a loader in Marikiti market and slept on the streets of Mathare, Bondeni area.

This saw hundreds of Nairobi residents take to the streets on Monday to hold peaceful demonstrations as they matched across Mathare slums, demanding justice for victims of police brutality.

The protests which continued on Tuesday saw protesters from various social justice centres match to Parliament where they dumped coffins with names of all who have died in the cruel hands of the police outside the August house.

They held placards written "Youth Lives Matter" as they chanted songs of solidarity against police brutality, "Down with police brutality" and "Forward with accountability"

What this simply means is that Kenyans are tired of such inhumane acts and it’s time for police and other relevant authorities to get their acts right. Kenyans are tired of receiving blanket apologies from the Government each time people die in the hands of the police. Kenyans are not asking for much, just action taken against the perpetrators and a stop to this disease called police brutality.

Our energies as Kenyans should be focused on the fight against coronavirus, but the continued police killings are somewhat working against that, and having people in the streets protesting beats the odds when it comes to containing the spread of Covid-19.

On Wednesday, just a day after the two protests in Nairobi, a video surfaced online of a Police boss dragging a woman tied to a moving motorcycle in Olenguruone, Kuresoi Sub-County. This only indicates how deep rooted police brutality is in Kenya and the need for more to be done.

Again the officers involved have been interdicted and IPOA has launched investigations into the matter, and hopefully this is not all we get.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority also announced that six police officers will be arrested and charged over deaths, shootings and assault of three individuals. Duncan Ndiema Ndiwa for the murder of 13-year-old boy, Yassin Moyo. Lotugh Ang’orita for the murder of Colleta Amondi Ouda. Festus Kiptoo Saina, Boniface Wambura Chacha, Joseph Mwaniki and Nashaon Adera for assaulting Abdilbrahim Noor.

While this is a commendable move, more needs to be done to assure Kenyans of security and swift action needs to be taken against officers committing these crimes against humanity. The six police officers should serve as an example to others going forward. Blanket statements have not worked before and they will not start now.

It’s time all this comes to a stop! Every Life Matters!

Additional writing by Dennis Milimo

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the company

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