Family questions death of their kin in police custody

Samuel Odhiambo
A family has alleged foul play in the death of their son while in police custody in Bondo, Siaya County.

The relatives of Samuel Odhiambo, 38, who hails from Goma village in Central Yimbo, want officers at Usenge Police Station to explain the circumstances that led to his death.

Odhiambo was arrested and detained at the police station on February 6 but died on February 11 at the Bondo sub-county hospital, where he had reportedly been taken by police officers for treatment.

The officers claimed Odhiambo was injured when he jumped out of a moving police vehicle while being transported from the Bondo Law Courts.

According to police records, the man had been arrested when his neighbour reported to village elders that he had raped her.

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Odhiambo's brother, Charles Otieno, who talked to him on Monday, said he was taken to court by two uniformed police officers.

Last communication

“He called me using a phone that he borrowed from a man in the cell at around 5am and informed me that they were being taken to court,” said Mr Otieno, adding that this was the last communication he had with his brother.

Odhiambo was reportedly arraigned but failed to take plea after the magistrate allegedly rejected his case file.

“We are told that the court refused to register the case due to lack of a P3 form from the complainant,” said Otieno.

The brother said he was at home when he received a phone call at around 9pm from a person who identified herself as a nurse at Bondo hospital. She told him that an unidentified patient had been brought in by police.

The caller, who claimed to have got Otieno's contacts from a piece of paper in the patient's pocket, said he was in a critical condition.

Family members said they did not know that their kin was dead until the hospital informed them. They later confirmed that it was his body at the mortuary.

“We were shocked to see his body. We are still seeking answers as to why we were kept in the dark despite the fact that the police knew his home,” said Odhiambo's aunt.

According to a medical report seen by The Standard, Odhiambo, who died at 12.49am, sustained serious injuries to the head, hands and legs. He was bleeding from the mouth and ears when he was brought to the hospital.

The report further indicated that the police, who claimed to have picked up Odhiambo along the Bondo-Kisumu road, booked him as an 'unknown African' and left.

A source at the hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Odhiambo was brought in a police vehicle.

Moving car

The family asked how Odhiambo, who was healthy when he was being taken to court, suddenly sustained injuries and how he jumped from a moving police car. They also want the police to tell them why he was booked as an unknown person in the hospital.

“As far as we are concerned, our son should be in hospital in case he sustained injuries after he fell from the police vehicle because police have not yet reported to us about the death of the suspect they had in their custody,” said Peter Owiti, an uncle.

A senior police officer at the station confirmed that Odhiambo was booked for rape under OB No. 13/07/02/2019.

The officer, who declined to give more information on the events of Monday night, said they could not confirm the cause of Odhiambo’s death until a postmortem was done.

But relatives demanded the immediate arrest and interrogation of the officers who took Odhiambo to court.

“We are also calling for an independent investigation to establish the cause of our son’s death,” said Mr Owiti, adding that they would not rest until Odhiambo’s killers were apprehended.

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police custodypolice killingsSiaya County