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Student assaulted by KFS officers died of multiple soft tissue injuries

Rift Valley
  KFS rangers Zipporah Chepkurui, Charles Korir, Stanley Njoroge, Simon Mwaura and Francis Lemasio were presented before the court on May 15, 2024. [Joseph Kipsang, Standard]

Stephen Mwangi, a Form Three student allegedly assaulted by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers in Baringo County, died of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) due to multiple soft tissue injuries.

According to Dr Benson Macharia, a pathologist at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) Eldoret who conducted the postmortem on the body of the 19-year-old student, revealed that the soft tissue injuries were caused by blunt force trauma.

The student succumbed to injuries on May 13 while receiving treatment at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where he had been rushed after the alleged assault. “Mwangi sustained multiple soft tissue injuries in parts of the body including lower and upper limbs, and also at the back. There was a lot of bleeding within the soft tissues,” said the government pathologist.

He added: “Towards death, he also sustained a complication of these soft tissue injuries within the lungs. The cause of death was found to be acute respiratory distress syndrome due to extensive soft tissue injuries as a result of blunt force trauma.”

Dr Macharia was accompanied by the slain student’s family members led by his mother Mary Wambui. Ms Wambui appealed for justice for her slain son saying the family has not initiated burial plans as they have no funds.

“At the moment, we are only focused on ensuring that our son gets justice. We are calling on relevant authorities to help us get justice. We also need help in raising money for Mwangi’s sendoff and pending hospital bills,” she said.

Mwangi encountered five KFS rangers when he reportedly tried to stop them from harassing and detaining his mother in Koibatek forest. His mother said his only mistake was to intervene, trying to save her as she was being tortured by the officers guarding the public forest.

Wambui was at her farm on May 8 with her younger son. She said when she was done with farm work, she opted to fetch some firewood at the section of the vast forest before KFS rangers arrested and handcuffed her.

Wambui further recounted the pain she went through in the hands of the officers at the forest station after the officers refused to excuse her so that she could relieve herself. 

“They (KFS) rangers told me to relieve myself in front of my son aged 11. When I objected, they said I was rude. They harassed me and began to sexually assault me, that is the moment my son, Mwangi arrived,” she said.

The five rangers Zipporah Chepkurui, Charles Korir, Stanley Njoroge, Simon Mwaura and Francis Lemiso are in police custody. 

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