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Mother relives Baby Pendo’s killing at inquest in Kisumu

Tuesday February 20 2018

Samantha Pendo

Six-month-old Samantha Pendo who died of head injuries sustained during a police raid at their family home in Nyalenda slums in Kisumu in August 2017. Her mother broke down in tears on February 19, 2018 as she testified during an inquest into the death. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

VICTOR OTIENO
By VICTOR OTIENO
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The mother of Samantha Pendo, the six-month-old girl who was brutally killed by police last August, Monday broke down in tears as she testified during an inquest into the death.

Ms Lencer Achieng’ cried as she narrated how eight heavily armed police officers lobbed tear gas into her one-room house in Nyalenda Estate in Kisumu, barged in and descended on her husband with blows.

“They started beating my husband,” a forlorn Ms Achieng, who wore a grey dress, told resident magistrate Beryl Omollo as she wiped away tears.

“I tried to get out of the house because it was full of tear gas and we were choking. I was carrying my baby but just at the door, the officers started hitting me too.”

CALM DOWN

The magistrate adjourned the inquest for a few minutes to allow Ms Achieng’ to calm down and compose herself.

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Inside the courtroom in Kisumu, her husband Joseph Abanja, who wore a white short-sleeved shirt followed the proceedings together with friends and relatives as the inquest was taken through a blow-by-blow account of the August 11 tragedy.

Baby Pendo, whose killing broke Kenyans’ hearts provoking national outrage, was hit on the head, allegedly by the police officers who were on duty, quelling demonstrating National Super Alliance supporters in Kisumu following the declaration of Mr Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the August 8 presidential election.

The infant sustained a crack in the skull from a blow to the head and stayed in a comma for three days as doctors scrambled to save her life.

Ms Achieng’ said she pleaded with the police, who she described as tall, dark and slim, to have mercy on her as she was carrying a baby but they would hear none of it hitting her repeatedly with blows and kicks.

Then one of the officers hit the infant on the head with a club, sending her screaming and foaming at the mouth as the head became swollen.

“She clutched onto me strongly. When I looked at her, foam was coming out of her mouth and her head was swollen,” said Ms Achieng.’

FIRST AID

Mr Abanja said one of the officers on noticing what had been done to the girl tried to administer first aid to her.

He said the officer advised him to suck the girl’s nose which he did and noticed some little response from the girl.

Mr Abanja said the police officers had openly argued over whether or not to use live bullets.

While some of them were threatening to shoot inside the house from outside, another group could be heard telling their colleagues it was unnecessary to use their firearms.

SHOOT AND KILL

“They kept saying that we will just come out of the house since they were under orders to shoot to kill. I heard one of them say; ‘cock the gun’ but another shouted back ‘no need,’ ” Mr Abanja told the court.

The baby was rushed to Milimani Health Centre and transferred to Oasis hospital where doctors advised that she be taken to Aga Khan Hospital since her condition was critical.

Baby Pendo was admitted to the intensive care unit at the Aga Khan Hospital the following day on Saturday suffering from severe head injuries and she died three days later.

A post-mortem revealed she had suffered a cracked scalp with deep head injuries

The hearing will resume on Friday with 18 more witnesses taking to the stand.

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