Police in Kisumu are probing an incident where a KCSE candidate died after an alleged assault by school guards and fellow students.
Stephen Oluoch (pictured), a candidate at Joel Omino Secondary School died on Tuesday last week at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) ICU where he had been admitted for three days.
Today, his parents were still trying to come to terms with the incident which they claim to have emanated from their failure to clear the boy’s school fees.
According to the boy's mother Philgona Adhiambo, Oluoch collapsed on Sunday 3, November just hours to the commencement of the 2019 Kenya Certificate of Secondary education (KCSE) examination. He died last Friday.
“I had just been in town with him to shop for a few things which he needed for the examinations, then we parted ways as I returned to our rural home in Ahero as he headed to his brother’s house in Nyalenda Estate where he lived,” she said.
Before she could get home, she got a shocking call. Her son had collapsed. He was then rushed to Jaramogi Hospital where he was admitted at the ICU, before he was declared dead on Tuesday.
Ms Adhiambo wants an autopsy done to identify the cause of her son’s death and the perpetrators brought to book.
She said her son’s trouble started two weeks before the examinations when he was sent home for school fees.
“Since we had no money, Oluoch decided to return to school without the required fees, in a bid to plead with the teachers to allow him to prepare for the national examination,” she said.
However, he was denied entry into the school by the guards who told him that school principal Mr Richard Nyayal had ordered that students with fee balances be barred from getting in.
Oluoch then allegedly tried to push his way in, leading to a scuffle with the guards who allegedly assaulted him before he escaped and ran to class.
In class, a prefect allegedly accosted him with a wooden rod, ordering him out of class in line with the head teacher’s directive.
“Oluoch later confided to me that the prefect banged his locker, shouting at him that his fee balance could feed the whole school for the remainder of the term,” said Samwel Omondi, Oluoch’s elder brother.
It was the utterances and a shove that angered Oluoch who in turn hit the prefect with his locker, prompting other prefects to land on him with blows and kicks.
The principal then called in police from Nyalenda Police Station who arrested Oluoch, and detained him at the station with allegations that he had a roll of bhang.
After police discovered that Oluoch was in pain, they released him without recording any statement, pressing any charges nor booking him in the OB.
“It was when Oluoch was at the police cells that I got a call that he had been arrested, and he was feeling a lot of headache,” said the mother, noting that they did not seek any treatment, but managed to buy him some pain killers.
Adhiambo then proceeded to school to inquire why her son had been arrested from school and detained at the police station without being informed, but she was slapped with a suspension letter.
She was then directed to face the board with the boy for a disciplinary hearing two days later, which resolved that the boy be kept out of school until he gets a letter from the area chief and a certificate of counseling.
By the time the boy collapsed, the parent had not secured these documents, with Adhiambo claiming that she was tossed from one office to the next.
“The counseling office demanded that they needed an official letter from the principal to explain to them the nature of counseling required, but the principal declined to give the letter but advised that I just share his contact with the counseling office to call him on the same, and it turned into a back and forth movement from the school to the counseling office,” she said.
On Monday, the principal admitted that Oluoch had actually been sent home for fees, but denied there was any assault.
He also said he called in the police after a roll of bhang was found in the student’s school bag.
“Officials from the Ministry of Education had visited the school, and did their report where you can get much information,” said Nyayal.
County Director of Education Isaak Atebe confirmed that his office had received a report about the boy’s health the day he was admitted, but said there was no information in regards to the assault.
Nyanza Regional Police Coordinator Dr Vincent Makoha, however, confirmed that an inquest file has been opened on the matter.
“It is true that there are allegations of assault, and we have some medical information which alludes that the death may have been caused by a beating,” he said.
Makoha said since there were no direct suspects mentioned in the incident, the police is set to close the inquest file before the end of the week, and forward to the Director of Public Prosecution for direction.
“It is from the DPP that we can know who to arrest. As for now, the file is open, and we want to get to the bottom of the matter,” he said.
Jaramogi Hospital Superintendent Dr Peter Okoth confirmed that Oluoch had been managed at the facility, and died as doctors tried to save his life.
“On the nature of the allegations being fronted, it is only the autopsy which can reveal much. As a health facility, the records of our patients are confidential, and we only shared the necessary ones with the family,” he said.
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