Families demand justice in Bondo protest deaths - Daily Nation

Families demand justice in Bondo protest deaths

Saturday November 4 2017

Ms Beth Akinyi , 27, carrying the portrait of

Ms Beth Akinyi , 27, carrying the portrait of Maurice Okumu, her husband who was shot dead by police on October 13, 2017 during anti-IEBC protests. PHOTO | NECLON ODHIAMBO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NELCON ODHIAMBO
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The families of Maurice Okumu,31, and Stephen Omondi, 23, are struggling to recover from their sudden death after they were felled by the guns of police officers during anti-IEBC demonstrations.

The deceased were part of hundreds of Bondo town residents who took part in the demos around the country.

Three people, including a 15-year-old boy, were killed in the riots three weeks ago.

WORKPLACE

Ms Beth Akinyi ,27, a widow recounts the last moments she shared with her jovial husband, Maurice Okumu, a boda-boda operator in Bondo town. She describes him as loving, caring, hardworking and kind.

Sunday Nation caught up with Ms Akinyi, a supermarket attendant in Bondo, at her house in the outskirts of Bondo Town. She recounted how on October 13, the couple left their house to go to work, hoping to meet in the evening.
The mother of three added that in the course of the day, hundreds of protesters passed through her workplace, prompting the management to lock workers inside in a bid to prevent looting.

She remained inside the locked supermarket until in the evening, following heightened tension in the town after the killing of three demonstrators by police.

She was released for home late in the evening. On reaching home, she was informed about  the death of her husband by a neighbour.

“I spoke to Maurice for the last time that Friday morning when we were leaving for work. He told me he would be coming back home early so I could prepare his favourite meal,” said Ms Akinyi.

SHOCKED

“As I was opening my door a neighbour approached me and told me my husband was amongst those who had been shot by police. I was shocked because I did not see him among the demonstrators in the day,” added Ms Akinyi.

Ms Akinyi said that she called his phone but it was off prompting her to head to Bondo sub county hospital mortuary to identify his body.

She was denied access by the hospital management until the following day when she positively identified the body. The widow added that she was asked to record a statement at the Bondo police station which she did, only for the police to go silent with the matter.

She added that officers from the Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) had visited her once and taken her statements but dismissed her case, claiming that she did not witness the shooting.

“I have recorded statements with both the police and Ipoa who have since gone silent days after Maurice was shot dead by the police. It is sad that Ipoa dismissed my case when they claimed that I did not witness my husband shooting, yet he died of gunshot wounds as depicted in the postmortem,” lamented Ms Akinyi.

DAILY NEEDS

Ms Akinyi called on both the county and national government to help her raise her three young children aged seven, five and three years respectively because her current employment could not enable her to cater for their education and daily needs.

“I am currently surviving with the savings from the contributions from Nasa leader Raila Odinga and the county government towards the funeral. I would be glad if Mr Rasanga employed me as he promised to enable me care for my young children,” requested Ms Akinyi.

Several kilometres away, in the neighbouring Alego Usonga constituency, is the family of  Stephen. They are also calling for justice after the young man was shot by police in anti IEBC protests at Bondo.

Mzee Henry Oduor, 60, recalls the last conversation he had with his son. Stephen had promised to send him money to pay school fees for his three siblings, studying at Nyajuok Primary School.

Two days later, he received word that his son was seriously injured by gunshot wounds inflicted on him by police.

ABSENCE

Mzee Oduor a father of eight, described his second born son as an industrious, hardworking, caring young man, whose absence has left a huge gap in the family that is just recovering from the death of their mother.

“My son had just returned from Nairobi where he did odd jobs, before relocating to Bondo where he operated a Pork butchery which he had set up one month ago, only for his life to be cut short.”

Mzee Henry wondered how his son was shot by the police when it was apparently clear that he was not part of the demonstrators as he was shot several metres away from the Bondo Police Station. He called on Ipoa to expedite investigations and deliver justice to his son, who he insists was innocent.

“I have not heard another word from Ipoa despite our previous meeting in Bondo several weeks ago where they took our statements and went without giving us another way forward,” said the weary Mzee Oduor.

EDUCATION

Mzee Oduor admitted receiving direct assistance from Mr Odinga and the Siaya county government, but called on governor Rasanga to offer him any job opportunity or even consider assisting his remaining three children with their education.

“I am thankful to Mr Odinga and the Siaya County government for seeing me through the burial of my son. But I would want the county government to consider my children in classes eight, seven and six with education bursaries and enable them complete their education since I  do not have a permanent source of income,” said Mzee Oduor.

Bondo OCPD, Mr Paul Kiarie, has absolved the police from wrongdoing and instead accused the protesters of attempting to storm the police station under the pretext of demonstrating.

“We exercised restraint until a time we realised that they were committed to storming the police station forcing us to resort to alternative force to subdue them,” said Mr Kiarie.   

The two families are contemplating taking legal action against the Inspector General of Police and the national government and push to be compensated for the deaths of their loved ones.