Election-related violence has ticked up as campaigning enters the homestretch, an investigation by Nation Newsplex reveals.
Newsplex documented 19 incidents of polls-related violence that resulted in 72 casualties and destruction of property including nine deaths and 63 injuries from January to July by monitoring mainstream media.
Nairobi County led with 24 casualties, including 22 injuries and two deaths over the seven-month period. It was followed by Mandera with 12 injuries, Homa Bay and Migori followed with six injuries and one death and Marsabit with seven injuries. Siaya was next with six injuries.
Mathare is one of 10 areas Nairobi Police Commander Japheth Koome described as, a hotspot, or a place where violence is likely. Others hotspots in Nairobi include Ziwani, Landhies Road, Dandora, Makadara, Mowlem Savanna, Globe, Mukuru, Sinai and Umoja. In total, during the seven months, 20 cases or just above quarter of the 75 cases occurred in Mathare
While no casualties or incidents were recorded countrywide in the first two months of 2017, the situation changed in March when seven people were injured and one killed during two separate incidents of violence in Mathare. The man was killed after supporters of Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang and Nominated senator Elizabeth Ongoro faced off.
In April there were 15 casualties countrywide, almost double the previous month. Twelve people were injured and three died. In Busia, one person died after supporters of Funyula MP Paul Otuoma and Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong clashed in Funyula ahead of Mr Otuoma’s rally in the area.
The second death in April was reported in Lambwe Ward, Homa Bay County, when the late Kennedy Okore, a bodyguard attached to Mbita MP Mille Odhiambo, was run over by a vehicle after violence erupted during ODM nominations at Urianda Primary School.
The third event happened in Pangani, Nairobi whereby a young man was run over by a speeding car as he was running away from angry youths who had stabbed him. The man had been found posting posters of a Starehe MP aspirant.
In May there were two killings, one each in Nyandarua County and Isiolo County. A man was shot dead during protests in Nyandarua County after anti-riot police shot in the air trying to disperse rowdy residents who were protesting the issuance of Jubilee Party clearance certificate for running for the Women Representative position in Kirinyaga County to the incumbent Women Rep Wanjiku Muhia.
Another person was shot dead during a peaceful political procession in Isiolo County after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee rally.
There was also a decline in activities across the political divide in May, attributed to the uncertainties around the credibility of the primaries and the issuing of clearance certificates to candidates.
Casualties leaped to 10 including two deaths in June. The deaths in June occurred in Bungoma and Migori counties. In Bungoma, a businesswoman identified in media reports as Alice Khaemba, was shot dead as police opened fire to disperse rowdy supporters of Jubilee’s gubernatorial candidate Ken Lusaka and Ford Kenya’s Wycliffe Wangamati. In Migori, a man identified as Odhiambo Kangilo was stabbed to death as supporters of Awendo MP Jared K’Opiyo and ODM Candidate Walter Owino clashed.
In July, there were 37 casualties countrywide election related violence, the most of the seven month period. Twelve people were reported injured in Mathare when two rival groups clashed after a court ruling that ordered ODM to conduct fresh primaries for the MCA seat in Utalii Ward. A report from Ghetto Radio indicated that landlords were giving eviction notices to tenants of a certain tribe that was not named.
The July casualties made up more than half (56 per cent) of all casualties. At the start of the month the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) had warned of potential violence as politicians continued to use inflammatory language.
In Marsabit, four police officers were injured after supporters of Jubilee’s gubernatorial candidate Muhamud Ali and those of the Economic Frontier Party’s candidate, who is the incumbent governor Ukur Yatani clashed, as President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto toured the county.
In Siaya six injuries were recorded and in Bungoma two deaths and two injuries. One person each were killed in Busia, Isiolo and Nyandurua counties. In Embu, Morris Nyaga, the MCA candidate for Kirimari Ward on a Jubilee ticket was hit on the head with a stone as he was campaigning in the Dallas area. A group of 20 people, who are supporters of another candidate, had attempted to disrupt the rally when commotion ensued.
From January to July, there were three incidents that ended with major destructions of property, one which was school property. In the first incident, school property was destroyed in Rakwaro Mixed Secondary School, Migori, after youth disrupted an ODM training session for presiding officers in the run up to the party primaries.
In the other case, arsonists set ablaze the Kajiado Central ODM offices in what the Kajiado County Commissioner believed could have been politically motivated. In the third incident, the house of Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo was burnt down a day after she had won the ODM party nomination to defend her seat.
In past elections, women have specifically been targets of violence and this campaign period has not been different. During the IEBC Code of Conduct hearing held on June 21, Kibwezi East MP Ms Jessica Mbalu explained how supporters of her rival had her car stoned and explained amid tears how they had intended to rape her. Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo’s house was burnt down by a mob after she won the ODM nominations, an attack that was viewed as aimed at her because of being a woman owning a home.
There are also reports indicating that women living in slum areas have concerns of impending post-election violence.
Women from informal settlements such as Mathare and Kibera said that some politicians have financed gangs with the purpose of causing mayhem, with threatening messages being left in the form of leaflets at their doorsteps.
This prompted the African Women Development and Communication Network to urge the government to ensure there is security since women and children suffer the most in the event of violence. They also called for the deployment of female police officers in the slum areas to avoid women falling victim to rape and mishandling by male officers.
The Election Observation Mission sent by the European Union issued a statement in July led by Marietje Schaake stated that there was a growing concern over the possible outbreak of violence. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in June 2017 mentioned Busia as one of the hotspots identified due to the sharp divisions that emerged among candidates during the party primaries last month.
The government has beefed up its security capacity by acquiring crowd-control vehicles, guns and tear gas to be used in the event of violence following the announcement of the winner of the presidential election.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, has said that the police are prioritising preventive action based on the lessons learnt in the violence after the 2007 election.