Police, gangs unleash terror on Coast residents

Monday March 30 2020
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Family mourns its loved one who died after allegedly being assaulted by police officers in Matuga, Mombasa, as they enforced the nationwide curfew, on March 29, 2020. PHOTO | FADHILI FREDRICK | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NATION TEAM

A family in Kwale is in mourning after it lost a loved one at the hands of police officers enforcing the ongoing dusk-to-dawn curfew even as a wave of crime was reported countrywide.

Emotions ran high as family members and relatives thronged the home of Hamisi Juma Idd, 49, at Zibani village in Matuga, with calls to end police brutality.

Mr Idd, a boda-boda operator, sustained fatal injuries in the abdomen and hands after a beating by police officers enforcing the curfew.

According to family spokesperson Omar Abdallah Raisi, the police threw a baton at him as they tried to stop him at Mkunazini in Ujamaa, Likoni.

“He lost control of his motorcycle and what followed was a beating from the officers who left him for dead,” he said, adding the incident occurred around 7.30pm.

According to accounts attributed to the dead, he was from Mwahima Hospital where he had dropped a pregnant woman.

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“Upon reaching Ujamaa, he met security officers who beat him up senseless, but he regained consciousness and took the motorbike by himself to his home,” Mr Raisi said. The motorcyclist complained of pains in the abdomen and hands.

JUSTICE

He was taken to Kwale Hospital by family members on Saturday morning, but was later transferred to Msambweni County Referral Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

“We’re saddened as a family. He has died today (Sunday) morning while receiving treatment at the county referral hospital,” he said.

Mr Raisi said Idd served in the Kenya Police for four years in North Eastern before he was unceremoniously discharged.

There was tension when police officers stormed the home to take Idd's body for a post-mortem.

However, they went away after realising the situation would turn chaotic.

Matuga MP Kassim Tandaza and Haki Africa director Hussein Khild intervened as they got a briefing from the family members.

“We cannot brief the media for now as we are going to the police station to know the way forward because the body cannot be buried without a post-mortem,” said Mr Khalid

Mr Idd Rashid, a relative , wants justice, saying the police officers caused the death of their relative. “He was the breadwinner of his young family, we want nothing but justice,” he said.

SHOPS LOOTED

Elsewhere, criminal gangs have taken advantage of the curfew in the country, terrorising families in their homes and breaking into business and other premises as the countrywide dusk-to-dawn curfew entered the third night Sunday.

In Kisumu, gangs struck at the peak of the curfew hour, unleashing terror on residents of Lolwe, Migosi, and Carwash estates, taking advantage of the absence of police patrols in crime hotspots.

On Saturday night, shops at Carwash estate were broken into, including one owned by local ODM chairman Jege Jege.

The gangsters gained entry through the rooftop and carted away everything.

Interestingly, a police station in Kisumu was not spared either, after a gang broke into the station’s armoury and stole firearms.

Top security personnel in Nyanza region have embarked on an operations to recover the stolen guns, with Nyanza regional DCI boss James Kipsoi and regional police commander Vincent Makokha leading the efforts.

ARMOURY ROBBED

The officers combed the neighbouring sugar plantations and bushes in search of the arms.

“We are currently concentrating on the surrounding area of Nyangeta to ascertain whether the criminals could have hidden the guns and ammunition in the nearby thickets before spreading the search,” Dr Makokha told the Nation on Sunday.

The thieves are alleged to have taken advantage of the heavy rains experienced on the second day of the curfew to break in.

While Dr Makokha did not confirm the exact number of weapons stolen, it has been reported that the gangsters made away with 155 rounds of ammunition.

According to a source who requested anonymity, the gangsters accessed the strongroom after the officer guarding the facility briefly went to his house.

The gangsters locked four nearby staff houses from outside and left the armoury’s steel door wide open after committing the crime.

No suspect has been arrested so far. A resident, Mr Zedekiah Odhiambo, appealed to locals who might have information about the incident to report to the police.

“We know the criminals could take advantage of the current curfew in place and the few police patrols in the villages to terrorise people,” he said.

This happened as a number of Kisumu residents reported a spike in criminal activities.

SUSPECTS ARRESTED

More than three incidents were reported, with the most affected estates being Migosi, Lolwe, Kenya Re and Carwash.

In the latest incident on Saturday night, a caretaker at Lolwe Estate was confronted by a machete-wielding gang that slashed him on his head and stomach. He is recuperating in hospital.

On the first day of the curfew, another group of machete-wielding gangs, numbering almost 15, raided houses in Migosi near Aliwa area, but were repulsed by locals.

Police have arrested two suspects in connection with the incident.

Locals who spoke to the Nation attributed the latest rise in criminal attacks to the absence of police patrols in the estates, with officers concentrating on enforcing curfew orders in urban centres and on highways.

In Lolwe estate, Ms Maureen Odiwuor said a robbery attempt was thwarted on Saturday night after residents took on the gangsters.

Kisumu central police boss Martha Ng’etich said police are investigating the Lolwe incident.

“Initial reports indicate that they had a difference with someone known to him which led to the fight. However, we are also pursuing if the same could have happened as a result of a robbery incident,” she said.

ATTACKER OVERPOWERED

A Kisumu resident, Mr Audi Ogada, asked police in Kisumu to change tack following the rising criminal cases.

“We appreciate the work police are doing in Kisumu, but they must now change strategy and deal with emerging security issues,” said Mr Ogada.

In Kakamega, a Kenya Navy officer travelling to his rural home in Lurambi had a close shave with a boda-boda rider who tried to rob him on the first night of the curfew.

The officer had boarded a matatu from Kisumu heading to Kakamega, but when they got to Makhokho in Ikolomani, the driver could not proceed because of a police roadblock.

He alighted and requested a boda-boda rider to take him home. “The rider told me he would use alternative routes in the village to avoid the police roadblocks. He took me to a bridge near Masiyenze village and told me to surrender the two bags I was carrying and my mobile phone,” said the officer.

But the officer overpowered him and beat him senseless. “I left the boda-boda rider lying on the road and sought assistance from police officers on patrol. They escorted me and I’m now safe with my family,” he said.

In Kisii, police have revealed that a gang that has been terrorising Keumbu residents is targeting returnees from abroad.

“Upon your arrival, the gang will not take more than two days to welcome you,” said Mr Stanley King’ara, a resident, whose brother fell victim soon after arriving from Ethiopia.

“They have details of their targets and know when and how you are returning home,” he added.

POLICE COMPLICIT

The family, which stays about two kilometres from the sub-county headquarters in Keumbu, had just arrived upcountry from Nairobi and no sooner had they finished having supper than the gang attacked.

The gangsters claimed they were police officers who had been sent to pick one of their relatives who had arrived from Ethiopia for quarantine, as a measure of preventing the spread of coronavirus, and the unsuspecting family let them in.

“My brother’s family was baffled by the kind of surveillance that the Kenyan ‘police’ had deployed to a point of tracing returnees to their rural homes. Little did they know that the people who had knocked at their doorstep were not police officers but thugs,” said Mr King’ara.

One of the gunmen attempted to rape a woman in the homestead.

They, however, stole property. Residents complained that the newly opened Nyaturubo Police Post is not effective and its presence serves no purpose.

The few officers in this post have no vehicle and it is difficult for them to pursue criminals.

Reported by Fadhili Fredrick, Victor Raballa, Rushdie Oudia, Ruth Mbula, Benson Amadala and Shaban Makokha