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Four police officers under probe over shooting of children

Sunday September 15 2019

POLICE BRUTALITY

Dan Githinji. He was shot dead while playing with his friends in Soweto, Kasarani, on September 8, 2019. PHOTO | MARY WAMBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BERNARDINE MUTANU
By BERNARDINE MUTANU
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The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) is investigating four cases of death or injury blamed on police brutality.

In three cases, police officers allegedly shot dead two children aged below five years, while one alleged victim of police brutality died in police custody. In the latest case, two-year-old Duncan Githinji died on September 8 after allegedly being shot by officers during a fracas in Kasarani, Nairobi.

INCONSOLABLE

When Ipoa chairperson Anne Makori visited the late Githinji’s parents in Kahawa Soweto, the young couple was inconsolable and said all they wanted was justice for their baby.

Between sobs, the late Githinji’s mother, Joyce Muthoni, 23, gave an account of what happened on the fateful evening. “I was at work when I was called because my child was in trouble. I found him lying down. He had been fatally shot,” she said, holding her late son’s portrait.

She told the team that she saw the police officers blamed for her son’s death, but they hurriedly left.

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It is alleged that there was a scuffle at a chang’aa den, where the officers had gone on an operation and they started shooting. According to reports, the baby was hit in the stomach by three stray bullets.

“I want all those who were involved, even the women who were there, to write statements. All I need is justice for my son,” said Ms Muthoni, who was flanked by her husband David Njuguna and her mother Theresia Njeri.

CRUELTY

Ms Makori said the suspected police officers have been arrested and locked up so as to prevent them from interfering with the ongoing investigations into the incident. “We released our officers immediately after the matter was reported to us, they have been doing the investigations,” she said. The police officers will be prosecuted if found culpable in accordance with the law, she said.

 “Nowhere, even in the National Police Standing orders, are police officers allowed to take the law into their own hands or to abuse citizens in any way. We will ensure that justice for Baby Duncan is done,” said Mrs Makori.

She expressed confidence that all complaints and investigations will be carried out accordingly, saying IPOA is cooperating with National Police Service Commission (NPSC) to dispense justice to all the people who have complained about police cruelty.

“We have no reason to fear that investigations will be interfered with. We will ensure that it takes the least time,” she said.

EVICTION

In Trans Nzoia, police officers are being investigated by the oversight authority for allegedly killing a five-year-old baby girl. The incident happened in  Mowlem, Endebes, where the officers were executing a court order for an eviction.

And the death of Samuel Njenga Njogoo, who died in police custody at the Ngano Police Station is also being investigated by IPOA. The late Njenga was arrested on September 10 on suspicion of stealing and was locked up at the station by police officers from Charagita Police Post, Ol Joroorok, Nyandarua County.

In Embu, IPOA is investigating an incident where a deputy police commander allegedly shot and injured a matatu driver.

“IPOA will make appropriate recommendation and forward the investigation file to the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice and directions,” said Mrs Makori in a statement.

From the time it was established in 2012, IPOA has received more than 12,000 complaints against police officers. Police have been on the spot for the death of Baby Pendo. In February this year, senior police officers including a former Kisumu County commander were found culpable of the death of Baby Pendo during the charged 2017 General Election.