IPOA status report shows majority of cases against cops go cold

Only six out of the 5,940 cases that have been investigated by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) have resulted in convictions.

This is according to a status report released by IPOA in a consultative meeting with members of the Civil Society on Monday. Some 75 cases are pending before court.

The six convictions result from 1,889 cases that have been dealt with conclusively, with 2,269 others still under investigation. Another 188 cases have flopped owing to lack of evidence.

In the meeting, IPOA was put to task over investigations and stalled cases, some dating as far back as 2017. The police oversight body, however, blamed low witness turnout among other challenges for the slow pace of investigations.

One such case is that of Victor Okoth and his brother Bernard Okoth, who were allegedly killed by the police in the wake of the August 2017 General Election after being mistaken for protesters. The two were gunned down in Mathare on August 9 while returning home from work.

“I have followed up the case since 2017. They say that they are still investigating. I want closure,” says their mother, who only identifies herself as Mama Victor.

She was among many people with questions on why cases were taking too long to be resolved amid assurances from IPOA.

The threat of witness intimidation is a real one and IPOA admits as much, blaming the high threshold set by witness protection agencies. The story of Christopher Maina who was allegedly killed by the police in 2017 illustrates the extent to which the intimidation threat goes.

Maina was reportedly gunned down by police in a case of alleged mistaken identity.

His death sparked protests in Mathare after which residents reported the matter to IPOA. Joseph Mbuthia, a witness who had recorded a statement with IPOA, was also allegedly killed by the police.

All these cases were reported to IPOA, but are yet to be completed. IPOA has more than 15,000 complaints and the six convictions it has secured is a drop in the ocean compared to the total statistics.

Speaking at the event, IPOA Chairperson Anne Makori said there are plans to devolve the body to the county level, adding that the success of IPOA required concerted efforts.

“As an institution, it is our firm belief that a multi-agency approach is a critical ingredient we need to offer Kenyans justice and professional policing service,” she said.