A grief-stricken man who was forced to spend a night in the rain outside a police station in Meru beside his wife’s body has sued the State for compensation.
Mr Charles Mwenda, who lost his wife to cancer, is accusing the Meru County Covid-19 surveillance team of mistreating mourners while enforcing the virus containment rules.
In a constitutional petition filed at the High Court in Meru through lawyer Vivian Wambulwa on Wednesday, Mr Mwenda says his rights and freedoms under the Bill of Rights were violated after he was forced to spend a night outside Kianjai Police Station with his wife’s body in a casket.
He wants the court to find that he was treated in an inhumane manner despite having complied with Covid-19 travel regulations.
CLEARED TO TRAVEL
He details how he, together with 31 other mourners, had been cleared to travel from Malindi in Kilifi County to Meru County for the burial of his spouse, Faith Mwende who died on May 24, 2020.
However, on reaching Keeria market in Meru County, they were stopped and the 31 mourners, including his two children, ordered to return to Malindi, while being threatened to be subjected to forced quarantine at their own cost.
A battalion of armed police officers then ordered the traumatised widower to board a police vehicle together with the casket. The officers took him and the coffin to Kianjai Police Station where he was forced to spend the night.
PLEAS TO POLICE
He recounts how, during the night, he pleaded in vain with the police to be allowed to transport the casket to his home which is only five kilometres away.
And as the night grew, rains pounded the area, leaving him and the casket soaked.
“Police left me alone in the rain. I dragged the casket all alone and sheltered it under a lorry which was parked near Kianjai Police Post. Stagnant water entered the casket,’’ Mr Mwenda claims in his affidavit.
He says the police acted extra-judicially and in breach of fundamental rights while all the respondents, through their agents, violated his rights under Article 28 of the Constitution of Kenya which requires that he be treated with human dignity.
“The petitioner was an innocent victim being stigmatised against on reason of having come from a Covid-19 affected area and his only sin being his beloved wife died during this period,” his lawyer says.
“The respondents and their agents treated the petitioner with total indignity by transporting the petitioner and his deceased wife and dumping him in the middle of the night by the roadside while it was raining without care as to his security and well-being and without any legal basis,” adds Ms Wambulwa.
Mr Mwenda, who has enjoined the Law Society of Kenya, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights is seeking general and punitive damages against the State.
Legal Aid Clinic, an NGO which promotes access to justice is also listed as an interested party in the suit.
Meru Resident Judge Alfred Mabeya Wednesday ordered the petitioner to serve the respondents and interested parties with suit papers.
The matter will be mentioned on July 6, 2020 for further directions.