Six-month old victim of police raids in Kisumu is dead

Joseph Abanja viewing his baby Samantha Pendo on her ICU bed at The Aga Khan Hospital Kisumu. Pendo was allegedly attacked by police. PHOTO BY KEVINE OMOLLO/STANDARD
The six-month-old baby who has been the face of police brutality in Kisumu has died after being in a coma for five days.

Baby Samantha Pendo passed on at Aga Khan Hospital shortly before 6 pm on Tuesday, throwing her parents and relatives into mourning.

The baby was critically injured on the head by armed police officers who raided her parents’ house in Nyalenda in Kisumu town during a door-door operation after demonstrations against the outcome of the presidential elections.

Baby Pendo’s parents, Joseph Abanja and his wife Lenser Achieng', were heartbroken and inconsolable after the doctors informed them that they had lost the baby.

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"My angel is gone," Ms Achieng' told Standard Digital, her voice filled with sadness.

Her father sobbed as he spoke to reporters outside the hospital.  He said they had Baby Pendo after the wife had suffered four miscarriages.

"Between the first born and Samantha, my wife lost four pregnancies. We had decided that Samantha was going to be the last," Abanja said, adding that he did not  know how he will settle the Sh 200,000 hospital bill.

"We voted and  returned  home as directed by the Government. Why did  the police follow us into the house?," Abanja posed.

His sister, Treeza Uduny said: "The police said  they were only beating  and shooting criminals. Was the baby a criminal?”

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When the news of the baby’s death filtered through the town,  sadness engulfed the air and Kisumu residents said the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i should take full responsibility for the child’s death.

"They defended the police who brutalised innocent people, including  Baby Pendo. They said no one had been killed or brutalised even as the people here nursed wounds,” said equal rights activist Audi Ogada.

"I have never seen a Government that defends its officers who brutalise babies. I have never seen a Government that sets its officers on innocent people then calls them criminals," Ogada added.

Abanja said police officers lobbed a teargas canister in their house on Friday night, forcing the couple to run outside with their baby to get fresh air.

The officers started beating  them with clubs and threatened to shoot them. "Three officers landed on my husband and two others came for me. They hit me on my left arm and hit the baby on the head,” Achieng said.

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Doctors at Aga Khan said  the baby had  suffered  serious head injured  after she was hit  with  a heavy blunt object.

"It was a serious head injury and there was internal bleeding," said Dr Sam Oula, the hospital's medical director.

The baby was put on a life support machine at the ICU, soon after her admission. She never came out of the coma.

On Saturday,  a day after the police raided Manyatta, Nyalenda, Obunga and Nyamasaria estates in Kisumu, Dr Matiangi said no one had been injured and described stories about the attacks as propaganda. 

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