Police stormed a burial ceremony and rounded up mourners including children and women.
The raid on Saturday at Mwambani village, Ngerenya location, followed an incident where police officers were attacked and wounded by unknown people in the funeral’s vigil on Friday night.
Among those arrested in the swoop was a pastor, two children and six women. They were all detained at Kilifi Police Station overnight. However, the children were freed on Sunday following protests.
The clash between the police and mourners started on Friday when an attempt to stop a funeral vigil commonly known as disco-matanga led to a confrontation. Local security officials have banned disco-matanga, blaming them for rising insecurity, teenage pregnancies and rape incidents.Public resentment
The ban has, however, been resisted by some residents, and when police went to stop the disco at around midnight on Friday, they were pelted with stones and mnazi (liquor) bottles.
According to police, seven officers were injured.
Following Friday’s clash, armed policemen surrounded the homestead of Ziro Kai during the burial of his son, Munga Ziro before storming in, sending mourners scampering for safety.
Those who did not manage to escape, including school-going children, were quickly rounded up and herded into a waiting police vehicle. Those who fled the swoop later returned to bury the corpse in a hurry and without ceremony.
According to one of the people arrested who wished not be named for fear of intimidation, police raided the homestead at 1pm on Saturday and arrested everyone on sight.
Many of those arrested claimed they were not even aware of the Friday night incident that prompted the police raid on the buarial.
“Everyone was confused and people started running away, those of us who were not aware of whatever had happened the previous night remained calm but were arrested,” said one of those arrested.
Witnesses said most of those arrested were the elderly with no connection to Friday night’s violence.
“The police told us that we attacked and injured security officers, but most of those arrested had only come for the burial,” said a witness.
But Kilifi OCPD Njoroge Ngigi defended the swoop saying he expects those arrested to reveal who attacked security personnel on Friday night.
“I cannot say who was at the funeral vigil that night and who was not, all of them will be taken to court for assaulting police officers,” said Ngigi.
According to a witness to the Friday night clash who sought anonymity, police had earlier warned the family against hosting the disco before attempting to stop it.
“The police came at night, but the crowd was too big for them,” he said.
Outgoing Kilifi County Commander Fred Ochieng’ faulted the manner in which the night raid was conducted, saying police were supposed to raid the homestead before the disco started.
“Chiefs and their assistants are supposed to inform the police early enough. We do not want to raid homesteads when the discos are on because it will lead to a confrontation,” said Ochieng’.
But according to one of the chiefs who did not want to be named, a weekly report on homesteads planning for disco matanga had already been made to the police.
“Every Thursday we submit a report on the areas we know there will be a funeral,” said the administrator.
In some cases, police have been accused of taking bribes to allow disco matanga to proceed despite the ongoing ban.
Meanwhile police in Matuga, Kwale county have arrested 14 suspected gang members after a violent confrontation between two rival groups over a borehole.
The clash on Saturday left five people wounded.
Police said said a gang from Likoni, Mombasa, invaded a borehole in neighbouring Matuga, Ngombeni area but were repulsed by another gang in Kwale.
[Additional reporting by Weldon Kipkemoi]
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