DCI probes woman’s drowning during police chase in Keiyo

Wednesday May 13 2020
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Residents search for the body of Gladys Kiptoo who drowned in the swollen River Moiben in Keiyo North, Elgeyo-Marakwet as she allegedly escaped from police officers who were chasing her on April 30, 2020. DCI has launched investigations into the incident. PHOTO | EVANS KIPKURA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By EVANS KIPKURA

Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in Elgeyo-Marakwet have launched investigations into a case where a woman drowned in the swollen River Moiben in Kamaketoi, Keiyo North as she escaped from policemen who suspected her of brewing chang’aa.

According to Simon Chesire, the father of Gladys Jeptoo, 25, his daughter was fetching firewood in a thicket near their home on Thursday at 8am when she suddenly disappeared.

"We later realised that she had been scared off and chased by police officers from Uasin Gishu County who had crossed over hunting for illegal brewers," said Mr Chesire.

SEARCH FOR BODY

The victim was reportedly chased into Moiben River which borders the two counties where she is said to have drowned while trying to swim over to the other side. Residents have been camping at the river’s banks since Thursday trying to locate her body but to no avail.

Eye witnesses told journalist that they saw the officers chasing the woman towards the river as they ordered her to stop.

"When I saw police officers chasing a woman down the road, I got so scared and hid in a bush for I did not know what was going on. I saw everything unfolding as the man in uniform chased the woman to the river then came back without her and told his colleagues that she had drowned," said Paul Cheruiyot, a resident.

RAISED ALARM

Mr Cheruiyot said after the police officers left, he raised the alarm and a search for the victim immediately started but due to the fact that the river was flooded, it became hard for them to save her.

Keiyo South Deputy County commissioner Julius Maiyo said he received reports of police officers from Raifarm Police Station in Uasin Gishu County who crossed over to the village to search for illegal brewers.

"Our preliminary investigations, however, do not show anything that could implicate the woman who drowned as having been an illegal brewer because we found a leso and some firewood at the river bank when we visited the scene," said Mr Maiyo.

OFFICER IDENTIFIED

The administrator said they have identified the police officers in question and forwarded the names to DCI for further investigation to determine exactly what happened.

According to him, members of the Kenya Red Cross Society and the county rescue team have not been able to locate the body due to heavy rains and the flooded river.

He added that he will liaise with his counterpart in Uasin Gishu County for the search to be done from both sides.

Residents have called on the government to intervene and help them search for Ms Kiptoo’s body.

"We have hit a wall in searching for the body but we will continue camping here day and night until we get the body and bury it. We do not understand why she had to go through this," said Julia Kemboi, a village elder.

It is still unclear how the police officers crossed over from Uasin Gishu County to Elgeyo-Marakwet to conduct an illicit alcohol search mission without the knowledge of their counterparts.