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Residents' cry for justice over 'killer cops' in Dagoretti

NAIROBI
By - | September 20th 2012

By James Mwangi

Three years since the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial killings Phillip Alston raised a red flag on executions of young men by the police, the murders seem to be unrelenting in Dagoretti, Nairobi County. 

The on going police reforms appear to have done nothing to stop impunity of trigger-happy wayward law enforcers.

After weeks of investigations, The County Weekly established that in the last three years, more than 75 young men have been killed mercilessly allegedly in the fight against crime. The executions are allegedly spearheaded by a senior police officer attached to Kabete Police Station, Kikuyu, Kiambu County.

The locals have protested the officer’s unlawful actions, calling for his arrest to face the law, but they claim all they get are threats, deaths and young people disappearing without a trace. 

“We no longer talk lest we become targets. If you decry this vice you are in trouble. Ours is to wait and bury our sons because even our leaders have turned a blind eye on this,” lamented a father whose son was killed last year.

The Independent Medico Legal Unit Executive Director Peter Kiama and Kenya Human Rights Commission Chairman Tom Kagwe last year called for the interdiction of the said officer.

The two human rights campaigners protested to the Kabete Police Station when a teenager was tortured to death in the cells. Locals, who fear reprisals and therefore sought anonymity, said numerous cases go unreported.  

Rights groups’ protest

The locals say about 80 people have died under mysterious circumstances that point fingers at rogue officers.

According to residents, the officer has made a habit of picking youth in private cars with different  numbers plates. They are not booked at any police station, but day(s) later a body is discovered a distance away riddled with bullets, torture marks and with ‘falsified’ police reports the person was killed on a hijacking or stealing mission.

The notorious body dumping grounds are said to be the infamous Kinare forest in Limuru, Kikuyu, Ngong, Ongata Rongai, Kiserian, Eastlands, Mau Bridge, Eastern By-Pass and areas neighbouring Dagoretti.

In April last year, three charred and bullets riddled bodies were found dumped along Magadi Road in Kajiado North. Although police refuted claims of extra-judicial killings, it is alleged officers picked the men at Uthiru before their lives were snuffed out callously.

Before this, several others had been ‘silenced’ in similar way and the trend is apparently not any close to a halt. Just last month, a teacher at Muhu Secondary School in Thogoto, Kikuyu, was shot dead allegedly by the same officers as he left a restaurant at Waithaka shopping centre.  On August 2010, Nixon kiboro, 29 was attacked at Mithonge, Kikuyu, while tending to his business. Carrying Sh28,000 to replenish stock, he was picked mid-morning a few metres away from his business by a familiar motorist, white car KBA  _87Y. His family frantically searched for him at all nearby police stations without success. At Nairobi Area Traffic his phone signals were briefly traced to a dam in Kangemi.

The IT graduate’s body was found at the City Mortuary three days later with five bullets minus the money, clothes and shoes.

Last year in September, James Mugo Waithira, 16 was picked at daytime at Kwa Ng’ang’a car washing yard in Dagoretti allegedly by Kabete officers who were in a saloon car. He was clobbered to death at the cell. Other three people arrested together with him witnessed the brutality, but have since fled for safety.

The post-mortem conducted by IMLU pathologist Dr Peter Ndegwa established that the teenager was subjected to torture and traumatic shock.

In December 2010 Mugo’s elder brother Joseph Kamau, 19 was trailed from Waithaka to Githurai where he had gone on family errands. On arriving, unknown people apprehended him and he has never been seen again.

Chilling testimonies

Nine days later, his cousin Jackson Kinyanjui, while recuperating in his house, was ambushed in broad daylight by officers in four cars, a truck and a Land Cruiser. They forced their way in and despite pleading innocence, Kinyanjui was allegedly shot thrice while in his bed. This officer masterminding the plan arrived minutes later only to declare the slain man was the wrong target before leaving the scene in a huff.

Before Mugo’s death last year at Kabete cells, his other cousin and namesake James Mugo who was a brother to Kinyanjui, was a month earlier enticed from home only to be found at the mortuary with several bullets and his name changed to Simon Mbugua. Police claimed he was killed at Karen suburbs stealing.

Residents put the number of youths executed at Kwa Ng’ang’a in Dagoretti at more than 22, about 11 from Ruthimitu in Kikuyu and the worst hit Waithaka at over 48. There are claims the number of those executed could be in hundreds.

“We have lost count on the number of deaths now. You meet a young man today and a few days later you hear about his death and unrealistic accusations,” lamented a father. A majority of youths have fled the area.

Going about his business, Rodrick Muhoro, 30, a mechanic-cum-taxi operator was allegedly arrested by two plainclothed police officers who took him in his car. They claimed he was needed at Satellite Station to record a statement. After leaving, they instead headed to Kabete Police  Station. Muhoro informed a friend about the turn of events.

Claims against officer

According to close relatives, the alleged officers sent a message to his friend demanding ransom or his head. After eight days of anxious search, Muhoro’s body was found at the Kinare forest bearing scary torture wounds and bullets. His personal belongings were missing, but the car had been towed to Tigoni Police Station, Kiambu County.

The same day, his close friend Kori Wanderi was whisked away, tortured, killed and his body dumped at the mortuary. His body was riddled with bullets and had nails hammered into his head.

The officer is said to work in cahoots with a dozen of civilian informers, who ruse the targets into their trap. Residents claim officers from Kabete and neighbouring stations who have dared ask questions have been transferred under questionable circumstances. Routinely, whenever somebody goes missing police direct the relatives to the mortuaries, an instruction that has proved practical over time though poignant.

“If your son fails to show up at night or his phone is off you start imagining his death, and in most cases your fears are confirmed,” claimed a mother mourning her missing son.

Students have also not been spared the bloodbath.


 

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