The biggest irony today is that Kenyans face as much grave danger from the Covid-19 pandemic as from the enforcement of the measures to curb the spread of the deadly disease. And standing accused are the police, who have been inflicting more pain on law-abiding Kenyans than the disease itself.
Right from the first day of the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed several months ago to curb the spread of the virus, Kenyans have been subjected to brute force under the guise of enforcing the curfew and other restrictions. If these were isolated cases, then the claim that some people need to be whipped to comply with regulations for their own safety, would hold some water. But this is not the case. What we have increasingly witnessed is the tendency by rogue security personnel to needlessly pummel men, women and even children, whose only sin sometimes is being just a few minutes late in complying with the curfew.
Innocent people have been killed and others maimed on their way home. Over 100 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in the recent past with nearly a similar number, including in crime-related incidents, blamed on the police. It is a pity that the brutality continues despite an apology by none other than President Kenyatta, who was also appalled at the strong-arm tactics of the police. Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai has also denounced the cruelty meted out to fellow Kenyans.
It is a shame that at a time when the country is faced by a deadly invisible enemy, security personnel, who should be helping to safeguard lives, are the ones unleashing excessive force against innocent people. A recent opinion poll gave the police only 34 per cent approval for their role in enforcing the Covid-19 safety rules, much lower than any other institution.