No justice yet for slain girl as probe lays bare police cover-up
By Eric Abuga | March 29th 2021
The life of an innocent girl was snuffed out by a single bullet fired by a policeman, who until today remains unidentified. Apparently, there were no records of officers who had been sent out on duty on the fateful day in Mathare, Nairobi.
Moses Onyango, a neighbour who witnessed the killing of Stephany Moraa, 9, told the court the police officer who shot the minor crouched, aimed and pointed the gun at the target but didn’t fire. “He did so a second time and fired.”
The bullet hit Moraa as she struggled to exit the balcony and she held on to Onyango’s leg crying, “Moses help me”.
She writhed in pain before she breathed her last. The bullet hit her on the back and exited through the chest.
Moraa’s parents, Wycliffe Mokaya and Damacline Marubu, say life changed immediately after their daughter was killed.
She could have sat KCPE this year, but what stands now is her grave behind her parents’ house.
The mother says she moved from the city to their home in Isecha village, Marani Sub-county, Kisii, to be close to her late daughter. “I couldn’t cope. I am sure one-day God will payback. I have been in the dark since my daughter was killed,” she says.
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Mokaya says despite receiving support from his friends and senior government officials, the family may never get justice.
“Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) has done a recommendable job. We need someone to give us a helping hand. I am seeking the help of our Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i,” he says.
In November 2017, the then Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko ordered an inquest into the killings of Baby Pendo in Kisumu and Moraa during post-election violence. During the inquest hearing that lasted for three years, the Presiding Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi said police officers failed to provide crucial evidence in the shooting.
Andayi declared that Moraa’s death was as a result of deliberate shooting by a police officer. A total of 11 witnesses testified.
Ipoa had taken over the matter but told the court that lack of cooperation from police had hindered the team from ascertaining the formations of the officers deployed in the area.
In a well-choreographed scheme to hide crucial documents from the court, Alice Jerotich, who was the Starehe Sub-county Police Commander and DCIO Starehe Martin Mbaya, in whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, told the court that to date the cause of the minor’s death has not been established.
Jerotich said on the material day, some officers had live ammunition while others had blanks. Interestingly in this case, no duty roster had been prepared nor did the senior officers have a record of the officers sent to Mathare Area two where the incident occurred.
Chief Inspector of Police James Onyango, a firearm examiner at the DCI, told the inquest that he was presented with a spent cartridge case about two months after the incident.
“The exhibit presented for ballistic examination was in fact not the one used to shoot the deceased and which was recovered at the scene by the investigating officer,” the officer concluded.
From the inquest, it wasn’t clear at what point the actual cartridge case was exchanged with a different one.
The investigating officer told the court that he collected the right cartridge from the scene and kept it for two months before handing it over to the officers from Ipoa.
Dorothy Njeru, who conducted the post-mortem examination on Moraa, concluded that the cause of death was chest injuries due to a single distant high-velocity gunshot.
Moraa’s parents testified that they were informed by other children about the shooting and on reaching the balcony they found their daughter lying in a pool of blood facing down.
Their neighbour, Nelson Osongo, told the inquest that he rushed to the scene and removed Moraa’s clothes. “I saw a hole in her chest which extended through her back.”
The Chief Magistrate noted that efforts to identify the killer officer had been frustrated by police cover-up under the ‘blue code of silence.’
“After every general election, innocent lives are taken away by trigger-happy police officers who are comfortable to know that they will be covered by the blue code of silence and under the guise of post-election violence,” Andayi said in his 14-page ruling.
On March 17, he ruled: “An innocent child standing at the balcony of the parents’ residence not even aware of what it entails for one to win or lose an election leave alone participating in a demonstration pays the ultimate price -- death. Unfortunately, the person who took away her life cannot be brought to book because he is under the protection of the “blue code of silence.”
In the magistrate’s analysis, two officers were clearly distinguishable from their appearance with one wearing a helmet while the other one did not.
The officer wearing the helmet was also identifiable for his light complexion.
“I am almost certain that if the police service wished to identify and bring to book the officer who took away Moraa’s life, it would not take a day to do so,” Andayi said.
He ordered that the ruling together with the opinion be forwarded to the DPP for necessary action.
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