City council askaris on spot over harassment and assault

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. [Photo: Courtesy]
Kenyans took to social media to condemn reports that Kenyan author Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor had been roughed up and arrested by City Hall askaris.

The incident happened on Thursday during the demolition of informal buildings operated by illegal traders in Lavington.

Owuor (right) was standing outside Lavington Mall waiting for a taxi when a City Hall official dressed in plain clothes approached her and grabbed her from the back.

When she shouted, thinking it was a robber, the man dragged her across the road and bundled her into a vehicle belonging to City Hall.

While pulling her, the man accused of her of being a hawker and selling her wares unlawfully.

She lost her phone and eyeglasses in the ensuing chaos.

Owuor was taken to City Hall cells where her sister Genevieve Oduor says the 2003 Caine Prize for African writing winner spent the better part of the day.

She was taken to court and charged with obstructing justice, illegal trading, and dumping.

Richard Bosire of Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko's communications office said they had an operation in Lavington where they were arresting people engaging in unlawful business, and Owuor could have been in the way.

Even though Owuor said she would not want to comment on the issue, as she is due to appear in court on Monday, many Kenyans used the incident to express their frustrations at what they called blatant disrespect from City Hall askaris.

They said the officials go on reckless arrest missions, extorting money in exchange for release. Even though Sonko has continually promised to deal with chaos that define the city, the use of excessive force by City Hall askaris is a major complaint among Nairobi residents.

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