Calm returns to Kisii town after 18 hours of riots

Kisii: Calm has returned to Kisii town after over eighteen hours of street protests and riots caused by a road accident yesterday evening that claimed the lives of two Gusii Institute of Technology (GIT) students.

The two students died after a traffic police officer illegally driving an impounded vehicle carrying electricity posts lost control outside the institution's gate killing the learners who were on their way home.

Several journalists, including Standard’s Denish Ochieng and Nation’s Benson Momanyi were assaulted by police officers who didn't want to be photographed at the scene of the accident. The journalists suffered serious injuries including broken limbs and teeth. They are admitted in hospital.

County Commander Simon Kiragu confirmed the incident and promised that he would launch investigations into the attack on journalists.

The officer is said to have impounded the lorry carrying electric poles at Bobaracho area along the Keroka-Sotik road and opted to drive it to Kisii Central Police Station.

The driver who allegedly refused to give the officers a bribe refused to get on the wheel. Police officers in the Kisii region are notoriously known for soliciting bribes from drivers along the Kisii-Sotik road.

Despite the Kisii Police Station being located less than 300 metres from the scene of accident, police officers arrived at the institution almost two hours after the tragic event.

Members of the public and students are said to have reacted with anger to the slow police response and went to the streets.

“They arrived and instead of first picking the bodies from the road started shooting in the air to disperse the crowd,” Joseph Ondimu, a student at the university told the Standard.

The Kisii-Sotik highway remained closed for more than fifteen hours while the bodies of the two college girls were rained on the entire night until around 9am yesterday morning when police picked them.

Since yesterday evening, hooliganism was witnessed in various sections of the town with property worth millions of shillings being destroyed.

By the time the situation was under control, hooligans had burnt the lorry involved in the accident, a number of vehicles that were parked at a nearby petrol station and vandalized officers at the petrol station.

The skirmishes resulted to three civilians sustaining injuries. The injured are being treated at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital.

"We have one middle man with a bullet in his left thigh and two others with broken bones. We are monitoring their progress but all have been stabilized,” Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr Enock Ondari said.

A chief inspector of police, David Thimba, was also injured in the fracas and lost his gun.

Residents also used the protests to call for the sacking or transfer of the area OCPD Tom Mutysia who has served the station for more than five years.

“We have grown tired of the OCPD. He failed to control the riots in time and watched as his officers beat innocent journalists and wananchi mercilessly. He has also failed to stem rising insecurity,” Lilian Mokaya, a businesswoman, said.