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Baby Pendo was exposed to dangerous chemicals, court told

By Harold Odhiambo and Washington Onyango | Published Fri, November 9th 2018 at 09:19, Updated November 9th 2018 at 11:20 GMT +3

Baby Samantha Pendo’s mother Lencer Achieng at the High Court in Kisumu on February 18, 2018. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Baby Samantha Pendo would not survive the dangerous chemicals she might have been exposed to the day their house was attacked, a court has heard.

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Reports by a government analyst show the teargas canisters hurled into their house had dangerous chemicals that could hurt a six-month-old baby.

Joseph Gitonga was among the last two witnesses to testify before resident magistrate Beryl Omollo as the hearing of the inquest concluded.

He told the court he found traces of chlorobenzalmalnonitrile, an active compound found in teargas handed to him by the Independent Police Oversight Authority.

An exposure of the same, he revealed, causes a burning sensation, teary eyes, coughing, nasal discharge and difficulty in breathing.

“A six-month-old baby cannot survive when exposed to such chemicals,” Gitonga said.

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Baby Samantha Pendo died from internal injuries after she was allegedly clobbered by officers who had broken into their house while in pursuit of residents protesting the outcome of the Presidential elections.

Her father Joseph Abanja said their attackers hurled teargas canisters into their house.

Witnesses, including senior police officers, have been summoned in the inquest to establish those responsible.

Kisumu Residents Association Chairman Audi Ogada told to the court how he received desperate calls from residents that police raided Nyalenda on the day Baby Pendo was attacked.

Audi said he received a call from the residents of Kilo Junction that police were mistreating people to the extent of clobbering a six-month-old baby.

“It was sad. When I visited the area, the police had cordoned it off and some were armed with battons and they were lobbying teargas everywhere,” said Ogada.

He said he later went to the hospital and saw the baby bandaged and covered in blood.

Among the people who have testified in the inquest that started in February include former County Commander Titus Yoma, AP boss Joseph Koima, OCPD Mutune Maweu and junior officers

The officers have absolved themselves from blame and said they are innocent.

In July, an officer who led operations in Nyalenda during election protests admitted that his actions could have led to the death of Baby Pendo.

Chief Inspector Masha Chengo, however, said his officers were not directly involved in the death, saying they did not access the scene, despite the area being under their jurisdiction.

While testifying during the inquest, Chengo, who is attached to the GSU Recce Company in Ruiru, said he may not have done enough to ensure no life was lost.

“It is true that the life was lost within my jurisdiction. And it is also true that I rightly fall within the bracket of suspects of the baby’s killers,” said Chengo when put to task by counsel representing the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on his role in the death.

Magistrate Omollo will deliver the judgment of the inquest on February 14.


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