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Widow’s agony after officer died in Suguta Valley

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By Alex Kiprotich | June 9th 2013
Anastacia Wambui and her daughter Yvonne at their home in Maralal. [PHOTO: Michael saitoti /STANDARD]

By Alex Kiprotich

The eerie silence that welcomes us to the house at Maralal police camp is baffling. As we settle at the sofa sets, one thing is conspicuous in the small sitting room: The portrait of Abduba Dida, a presidential candidate in the last General election.

Dida’s portrait watches over four other small photos, which are not framed, but attached to the wall using masking tape and safety pins.

The photos hang precariously threatening to fall, but for the duration we were in the house, none did.

The portrait of Charles Maina Kagera is the only thing his wife Anastacia Wambui is holding on to.

Since the police massacre at Baragoi in November last year, his body has not been found and the widow has been tossed from one police station to another in the search for her husband’s remains.

Wambui said the Police Service, which her husband served for five years, has abandoned her and her one and-a-half-year old  Yvonne. Every time she visits police stations she is turned away and efforts to seek for compensation have been futile.

Moved on

She says she has met senior police officers from the Rift Valley who turn her away saying there will be no compensation until after seven years.

“They forgot about my husband and moved on, but they do not know what it means to lose a husband and worse still, not burying him because his body is missing,” she says.

Going through the National Police Service Act on compensation, there is no phrase saying a police officer who dies in the line of duty and whose body cannot be found can only be declared dead after seven years and family compensated.

It seems the seniors are only using this to turn Wambui away from seeking her rights. And as she recounts her tribulations, her daughter keeps calling out ‘daddy’ as if she knows the subject of our discussion. This makes Wambui’s eyes well in tears, perhaps remembering the loving moments she spent with her husband.

“It is terrible, but who will come to my aid?” she says.

Earlier as we seek to interview her, she refuses, saying there is no need because nobody will help her. “Itasaidia nini? Wakubwa wanaendelea na maisha zao,” (It’s no use as seniors don’t care) she told me.

It takes the persuasion of another police officer friend of hers to allow us to interview her. At some point we gave her a number belonging to Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo. Wambui says she has gone to Vigilance House numerous times but she has never gone past the secretary. “Every time I am told he is not there or that I wait for seven years for him to be declared officially dead to get benefits,” she says.

She says once in a while she has to make the dreaded journey to Baragoi to see the OCPD to inquire if there are any remains. “Even if they give me bones and confirm it is his, I will be at peace. It is disheartening to be abandoned like this yet my husband lost his life keeping the place safe,” she adds.

She says her husband was taken to Baragoi without being told of the mission and left home without luggage.

“The following day, he told me it seems they will still stay around and asked me to send him some clothes to change. I sent him the clothes which were returned to me by another police officer after the massacre,” she adds.

She says at least the Police Service should have been kind to even comfort her for the loss but they operate as if nothing happened. “I have never been visited even by senior officers to explain what happened leave alone being given a cent,” she says.

The clerk at Samburu Central District Commissioner’s office at Maralal says she looks for the day she will meet Mr Kimaiyo.

“I want him to make me understand why they have done this to me and my child. What do I tell Yvonne every time she calls ‘daddy’? I do not know where he is and his employer seems to have closed that chapter,” she says.

 


 

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