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684 police officers under Independent Policing Oversight Authority probe

By Joe Kiarie | March 14th 2015

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) is investigating 684 cases involving police criminality and misconduct.

Some 151 police officers are under investigation over their role in unresolved deaths in the past three years. Ten of the fatalities being probed occurred last month, most of them in Nairobi.

“The 151 cases involve death in police custody. Also included is death following disappearance after police contact,” reveals Njeri Waithaka, the head of investigations at IPOA.

Some 132 cases relate to serious injuries sustained in similar circumstances while another 401 cases involve general police misconduct.

Sixty-six cases were reported and listed for investigation last month. Cases of police criminality mainly consist of murder and sexual offences while cases of misconduct include police inaction and delay in arresting or prosecuting suspects.

Among recent cases IPOA is investigating is the death of a 22-year-old woman last week after an officer allegedly hit her with a gun and she fell off a speeding motorbike in Lamu County in January.

The policeman, who surrendered on Thursday, is alleged to have hit the woman with a gun while trying to stop the boda boda.

“We took witness statements immediately after the incident and wanted the officer charged with causing grievous bodily harm. But we are now dealing with a murder case,” says Ms Waithaka.

Also under probe is an incident in February where a woman died after being run over by a lorry in Meru. The lorry driver is said to have been handcuffed to the steering wheel by two police officers as he drove towards Meru Police Station.

Other cases include the teargasing of Lang’ata Primary School pupils in Nairobi by the police during a demo over a grabbed playground in January and the deaths of two civilians during demonstrations against Narok Governor Kuntai ole Tunai.

“In the Lang’ata case, we have already submitted the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions but it’s yet to come back,” says the investigations chief.

While questions have lingered over the watchdog’s ability to deliver justice to victims of rogue cops, Waithaka assures that the investigations are bearing fruit. “In two cases, officers are already under trial for murder. We are awaiting the DPP’s recommendations in several other key cases where we have concluded investigations,” she told The Standard on Saturday.

The cases include an incident where a policeman at Kikuyu Police Station raped a woman who had gone to report an assault last November. She was released a day later, only to find her baby dead at home.

Another officer could face trial for shooting dead an Administration Police officer and his two cousins in Kangemi in unclear circumstances in October last year. Corporal Joseph Obong’o Makori, was a bodyguard to Bomachoge Borabu MP Joel Onyancha.

“Some investigations take a long time as we want to avoid bungled investigations and inconclusive evidence that cannot sustain successful prosecution,” Waithaka explains.

However, she is quick to note that IPOA endeavours not just to incriminate, but also absolve officers from blame over false accusations. A deaf woman last year reported that she suffered spinal injuries after law enforcers threw her off a balcony on third-floor during Operation Linda Usalama in Eastleigh.

“We have established that her fall was in no way as a result of police contact. The file has been closed,” reveals Waithaka. Since Just last year, 88 cases have been closed, mainly after the officers in question were cleared or a resolution reached.

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