Police, lobbies trade accusations over killings of suspected gangsters

Friday September 7 2018

Johnston Ipara

Mombasa Police Commander Johnston Ipara briefs the media at the police headquarters on September 7, 2018, on the killing of three suspected gangsters in Utange. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Police and human rights organisations have traded accusations on the killing of suspected criminals in Mombasa County, following the deaths of three youths.

On Friday, police accused the non-governmental organisations of “protecting criminals in the name of fighting for their rights".


Bilali Masoud, 17, Juma Kitsao, 18 and Kenga Ramadhan 19 were gunned down by Flying Squad officers in Utange on Thursday night.

Mombasa Police Commander Johnston Ipara questioned the groups' quick responses to their families' cries, saying those who were attacked by the criminals have been ignored.

Mr Ipara said it was "shocking" that the organisations are seen to “have more interest in suspected criminals".

He spoke a few hours after Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) officials accused police of killing three people who had not been proven guilty.

Mr Ipara said: "We have to ask 'what interests do these two groups have' because we have seen people being attacked and them not fighting for those injured by those youths who are usually armed with machetes. The fight for human rights should not be applied selectively."


The victims' relatives said Kitsao and Ramadhan were sellers of mitumba while Masoud was a boda boda rider.

Mr Ipara said, however, that the youths were shot while attempting to charge towards plain clothes police officers and that they were found with two knives and a panga.

He said they also had bags which had cloths that “must have been stolen".

According to postmortem reports obtained by the Nation, the suspects were shot at close range and suffered skull fractures.


The groups claimed police have killed at least 56 people in the last eight months. The Nation independently documented at least 30 cases of the killing of youths between January and July.

Muhuri chairman Khelef Khalifa wondered why police kill suspects even after arresting them.

“What police have been doing is clear execution. We all know no one is a criminal until proven guilty. Police have been killing the youth ... we will not allow this to continue. Police must fight criminals in the right manner,” said Mr Khalifa.

Haki Africa programmes officer Salma Hemed said it is unfortunate that "police rob families of their youth".

“How on earth would police know if someone is a criminal for them to kill? We have courts where guilt is either proven or not."

Mr Ipara challenged the activists to table reports on the youths they say police killed as without proof, it is "hearsay that police will not buy".

“Those are serious allegations. They should table the report with the names of those killed, where and when," he said.