Kawangware residents protest man's death after arrest by police

The police cell where 25-year-old Hussein Koropisa Bacho was held at the Kawangware police post. Dagoretti OCPD Kivinda Kilonzo says the deceased was attacked by the mob before he was detained but died at Kenyatta National Hospital. The family holds that he was killed at the police post. [Francis Ontomwa, Standard]

Tension was high in Kawangware as residents protested the death of 25-year-old Hussein Koropisa Bacho at Kawangware Police Post, Nairobi, on Tuesday.

Bacho's family insisted that he died on Monday around 3pm in police custody. However, Dagoretti OCPD Kivindu Kilonzo claimed that he passed away at Kenyatta National Hospital moments after arrest.

The OCPD said police took Bacho to the cells after rescuing him from a mob.

Residents engaged police in running battles as they demanded answers over the man's death.

The protesters lit bonfires, pelted the police post with stones and damaged several cars.

Mzee Noor Gabow, Bacho's father, was devastated by the shocking news of his son's death.

“A police informer came to my home around 10pm with a T-shirt, claiming my son used it to commit suicide while in custody. When we got to the station, the story changed; they claimed he was a victim of mob justice. Clearly, these inconsistencies speak volume," lamented Mzee Gabow.

Bacho's family said he was reported to the police after an altercation with an acquaintance near Delta Carwash in Kawangware.

"They were hanging out when a heated argument turned physical. The man reported it to the police, who then arrested Hussein," said Abdulaziz Koropisa, the deceased's elder brother.

"Why did it take so long to notify us of our brother’s death? We saw his body at City Mortuary, he had a ring-like mark around his neck. How can a T-shirt cause such a mark? The injury on his neck must have been inflicted by something like a wire. The suicide story is a cover-up," Koropisa said.

Police, on the other hand, insisted that they had nothing to hide.

"We arrested him, held him in the cells, then transferred him to Kenyatta National Hospital. He did not die in our cells," OCPD Kilonzo asserted.

The late Bacho, a car wash operator in Kawangware, is said to have previously served time at the Industrial Area Remand Prison over a robbery-related charge but was later released, something the family believes made him an easy target for the police.

“He has been out for almost a year since he left Industrial Area Prison. The crime that got him behind bars involved being found in possession of a motorbike that had been linked to a crime,” said Koropisa.

“We have reason to believe that he was on the police radar all along,” he added.

 Salim Mohamed, another resident, claimed that police brutality was common in Kawangware.

“Our brother was Muslim; first, as a religion, we do not subscribe to suicide. Secondly, it doesn’t make sense why our friend would choose to commit suicide in a police cell. We must be told the truth. We want justice for Hussein,” said Mohamed.

“We just want the remains of our brother to bury him, but we shall not forget,” he added.

John Ngugi, a trader at Sokoni Biashara in Kawangware, claimed that he has been a victim of police brutality in the area.

“We had some small differences with a cop from Kawangware police post in the recent past. A few weeks later, we met again, and this time he handcuffed me and beat me up. I broke my hand; right now, I cannot operate like I used to. Police officers at this post need to be investigated,” Ngugi claimed.