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More than 100 lynched in two months

Wednesday August 31 2011

Shocked residents of Mtopanga Estate in Kisauni, Mombasa, view the body of a security guard lynched by a mob after stealing car side mirrors in the estate on Tuesday.  Photo/GIDEON MAUNDU

Shocked residents of Mtopanga Estate in Kisauni, Mombasa, view the body of a security guard lynched by a mob after stealing car side mirrors in the estate on Tuesday. Photo/GIDEON MAUNDU  

By FRED MUKINDA [email protected]

More than 100 people have been lynched across the country in the last two months, raising concerns mob violence has become commonplace in Kenya.

The victims were cornered by crowds and stoned, set ablaze, bludgeoned with clubs or chopped with machetes.

Many of them were suspected of committing petty crimes like burglary, pickpocketing, mugging as well as snatching handbags and mobile phones on the streets.

In all cases reported, no one was prosecuted in court, because nobody volunteered to give evidence to police or stand as witness in court.

Statistics obtained by the Nation show police recorded 60 incidents in August alone, in which 57 victims died.

Another 47 people were killed in July in similar incidents, usually categorised as “mob injustice” by the police.

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Contacted, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe described it as a worrying that Kenyans have embraced the “culture of taking the law into their own hands.”

He added: “The reports we’ve received from field officers are disturbing. Even in cases where officers arrive at a scene in 10 minutes, everybody becomes a spectator, nobody says he or she saw it happen.”

In such scenarios, Mr Kiraithe said, it becomes almost impossible to prosecute.

In the event the matter is taken to court, culprits would be charged with murder, a capital offence which requires a higher threshold of evidence, because the prosecution must prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

The figures show mob violence is most prevalent in Nyanza, Nairobi and Western provinces, while North Eastern is free of the vice.

Around Nairobi, many of the cases were reported in slum areas and the victims were mainly suspected of theft.

But in rural areas, besides suspected thieves, those lynched were victims of land disputes as well as others accused of practising witchcraft, particularly in Makueni and Kisii.

Victims of rural mobs faced panga-wielding killers unlike those in urban centres where many died of stoning or burning.

In one of the cases in Nairobi, Mr Kennedy Otieno was lynched by a mob that had hunted him for hours at Kibera at around 4.45 pm on Sunday.

A woman had complained that her house had been broken into and household goods and electronic items stolen, prompting the hunt.

Officers from Ayany police post arrived at the scene and the mob fled. The officers took the victim to Kenyatta National Hospital where he died.

The previous day, Mr Eliud Mwangi, 27, was stoned to death and the body set ablaze at 4.50 am at Githurai 45 flyover.

A police report showed that minutes earlier a pick-up had stopped there and he and two other men alighted.

“They went to a nearby kiosk and picked two motorcycles. The public suspected them to be stolen and approached them. On sensing danger they abandoned the cycles and two managed to escape in the waiting pickup,” reads part of the police report.

The one who was left, adds the report, in an attempt to get away, stabbed one of those pursuing him.

Mr Mwangi, the deceased was later identified as a miraa dealer at Githurai 45 matatu stage.