Woman narrates how son lost his life in hands of the police

Kariuki was killed on April 14, 2019, two months after he was arrested over alleged phone theft. [File, Standard]

Though he is forever gone, Phindacia refuses to let go of the fond memories of her son Kevin Kariuki who was allegedly shot by police who suspected he was a criminal.

“I keep asking myself why they killed him instead of arresting and taking him to court?” She says as she fights back tears during an interview at her home.

Relatives of victims of police brutality live in fear as the suspected killers are free and it would be dangerous to reveal their full names and where they live.

Kariuki was killed on April 14, 2019, two months after he was arrested over alleged phone theft.

The family of the 20-year-old man tried to have him released but the police warned them that he will not live long. 

“Due to constant threats from the police, we tried to keep him away from the Pangani Six.”

At the time of his death, Kariuki had a wife and a son who was a few months old. 

On the day he was arrested he was found murdered near Amana Petrol Station a few minutes to 8pm. Kariuki was heading home after closing business at City Park where he sold fruits.

Kariuki was grabbed just a few metres from his house by four officers who frogmarched him behind Amana Petrol Station. He was briefly interrogated before being executed, witnesses say.

“I was told three officers covered my son’s face with a sack before their leader shot him on the hands and stomach.”

Her other son broke the news.

The news hit the widow so hard that she fainted. After regaining consciousness, she avoided the scene where her son was killed and headed straight to Pangani Police Station where she lodged a complaint.

Meanwhile, a group of Kariuki’s friends went to City Mortuary to establish whether his body had been taken there. A few minutes past midnight, the young men left the morgue after it became apparent the body was not there.

The following day, Phindacia returned to the mortuary where she learned her son’s body was brought in by the police at around 3am.

According to the 52-year-old, her son died with his hands raised. “Each of the palms had a single bullet hole while the stomach had three. A bullet was found lodged in his stomach.” 

Kariuki’s wallet containing Sh9,000 and a mobile phone were taken, his mother says.

“I was told he pleaded with the officers to allow him to call me but the officers ignored his pleas.” The bullet retrieved from his stomach was taken by investigators from the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa).

Officers from Pangani where she recorded the statement have never issued her with an OB number. Phindacia, a mother of three, recorded a similar statement with Ipoa.

She said one of the officers involved in the murder has been trailing and threatening her. 

“I no longer care. All I care about is justice for my son who was killed by officers walking free and continuing to kill more youth here.”

As a result of Kariuki’s death, Phindacia’s health has been deteriorating, a situation that worsens her high blood pressure problem. She called on Ipoa to expedite the investigations, saying the slow pace has left her family in anguish. According to her, more than 20 mothers in the area have lost their sons in a similar style.

“My appeal to the police is not to kill them when they arrest them. Take them to court. A week barely passes without an incident of a young man being killed and I am certain after this interview is published they will come for me.” 

Ipoa said the matter is under active investigation and that the authority is also probing several similar killings suspected to have been carried out by police officers.

Chairperson Anne Makori said soon after being informed about Kariuki’s death, Ipoa launched investigations to establish if the level of force used was lawful.