Victims of poll chaos cry for compensation as country trudges on

Issa Said, one of the post election violence victims at Manyatta estate in Kisumu county . He was shot on his chest during the post election protests in Kisumu last year. (Collins Oduor, Standard)
On a day like this last year, Kisumu was on fire. Gun fire reverberated in the lakeside city as police officers quelled anti government protests. Shops were closed and roads blocked with boulders.

When the guns fell silent, at least 20 people were said to have been killed and 100 others were nursing various injuries including gunshot wounds.

According to reports by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, 20 bodies were received at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOTRH) between August 8 and 25.

The hospital said that 250 people were treated for gunshot wounds and injuries inflicted by both sharp and blunt objects.

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The reports also show that between October 2 and 16, at least 91 victims were treated at the same hospital, with 12 having gunshot wounds. The election that was billed as the most expensive was marked with protests in Opposition strongholds following the disputed presidential poll results.

Exactly one year later, Kisumu has moved on, but victims’ wounds are a constant reminder of the chaotic events.

Five months after the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA leader Raila Odinga, Kisumu is still waiting for a tour to the region by Mr Kenyatta.

Shot as he returned home

The two had announced that they will visit Nyanza and other regions to help heal the country through the Building Bridges Initiative. And as the country trudges on, many Kenyans are still nursing wounds and trying to come to terms with the loss of property and loved ones.

Benson Odhiambo, 25, wears dark glasses to conceal his plastic right eye and block the rays of the sun. Odhiambo, a father of two is among  victims of police brutality pushing for compensation. They were hurt during demonstrations that followed the August 8 General Election and the repeat Presidential Election on October 26 last year.

He was shot as he returned home from work in Obunga informal settlement. The bullet went through his cheek, ripped the ear and exited through his right eye.

Odhiambo was first rushed to JOTRH where his wounds were cleaned and stitched. He paid Sh15, 000 to get specialised treatment and a plastic eye in Kisii. The incident rendered him unemployable. “I cannot do strenuous work of a mechanic anymore since my chest was also affected,” he says.

His children aged three and eight and a brother aged 13 depend on him.

Odhiambo is among families hoping that the inquest into the death of Baby Samantha Pendo who was killed by police officers in Nyalenda on August 12 will open doors for compensation.

Pendo died at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu on August 15, 2017, three days after she was brutally attacked by anti-riot police officers.

Other victims of the violence want compensation to be addressed in the peace pact between Kenyatta and Raila.

Those who spoke to Sunday Standard said it would be wrong for the two leaders to sit pretty after the truce and forget about those who suffered because of their differences.

They want the Government to heed Siaya Senator James Orengo’s calls for compensation. “Justice for victims of the violence should be part of the agenda. This will help reconcile the country,” said Lenser Achieng, the mother of Baby Pendo.

However, analysts have warned that compensation of victims will be complicated since no records were kept.

Kisumu City Residents Voice Association said 73 other people were injured during demonstrations to kick out IEBC team led by Isaack Hassan in 2016.

David Otieno, a resident of Nyalenda, is yet to recover from gun shot wounds. “As dialogue begins, let them also address our plight. I can’t get proper treatment and I can’t fend for my family because of the attack,” said the 35-year-old boda boda rider.

Issa Saidi, a second year engineering student at Kisumu National Polytechnic, who was shot in the chest has developed an infection and has breathing difficulties. TEAM Kenya, Grassroot Trust and Transparency International Kenya wants justice for victims.

In the statement signed by George Owour (Team Kenya), Lawrence Apiyo (Grassroot Trust) and Titus Ogalo of Transparency International, they noted that death inquests have never offered respite for victims.

“While we are alive to the shortcomings of inquests, we want to remember that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had already made some recommendations that we hope will eventually breathe life into this process,” read the statement.

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