A sombre mood hits you as you approach the ghost-quiet Kombewa village in Seme Sub-county, home to Titus Kwadha, a 25-year-old student who is the latest victim of police brutality in Kisumu.
The quiet atmosphere is occasionally disturbed by family members singing dirges and friends who visit the home to mourn with the Kwadhas.
Titus' father, 70-year-old Dominic Kwadha, and his mother, Grace Agolla, 63, are yet to come to terms with the death of the second-last born of their 10 children.
Titus was among four people who were shot dead by police in Kisumu. Another 20 were injured during the last protest, on the day of the repeat presidential election.
According Mr Kwadha, on that fateful day, Titus accompanied him and his mother to their family farm very early in the morning.
At 9.30 am, he said he was tired and asked his father if he could go back home and rest. He was asked to prepare breakfast when he got home but he never did.
That was the last time the deceased parents saw and talked to their son, a fourth-year Business Administration student at Maseno University. He had actually completed his studies and was awaiting his graduation slated for December 17, a day that will no longer be celebrated because the graduate is no more.
“I was relaxing at home when my sister-in-law came wailing, and immediately after breaking the unfortunate news to me, she fainted,” said Mr Kwadha.
He abandoned everything he was doing and quickly rushed to Kombewa, only to be told that his son had been shot about 300 metres away, at Kit Mikayi.
When he rushed to go and view the body of his son, police told him to keep off, even as protestors shouted that he was the boy’s father.
“A police woman even wanted to hit me with her baton. I tried to explain to them that I was his father but my plea fell on deaf ears. I never viewed my son,” said Mr Kwadha.
They later hurled teargas canisters at him and the crowd that demanded to take the young man’s body.
The police took the body and left for Kisumu, with an ambulance that the area Ward Representative had brought in hot pursuit. Mr Kwadha says the police threw teargas canister at the ambulance too.
STILL IN SHOCK
He looked for his son’s body the next day, at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referring Hospital mortuary.
The police also denied them the post-mortem report, which they were told by the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) confirmed that Titus had been shot in the neck, with the bullet exiting from the other side of the neck and grazing his shoulder in the process. IPOA is already investigating the case.
Her mother said Titus was a very social person and was nicknamed ‘Okulo man-power’ by his peers. “That day he was jovial and was greeting everyone, it was like he was bidding us goodbye,” said the mother.
His elder brother, Allan, who is usually in Nairobi, is still in shock because they had spoken on that fateful day. Titus told him not to come out since violence had already started in some parts of Nairobi.
“I am still wondering why he told me to keep safe, yet he exposed himself to such danger,” said Allan. He asked why the police had killed his brother instead of just beating him or throwing teargas at him.
“All we want is justice for my brother and the many victims of police brutality. The government is not taking it seriously,” said Allan.