Seven killed, scores injured as ugly side of protests laid bare

At least 40 people hospitalised in Nyanza region with gun, arrow and stab wounds.[Standard]

Seven families are mourning their loved ones as medics fight to save the lives of more than 20 people injured in the Azimio protests.

From bullet wounds to injuries caused by stones and arrows, most of those admitted to hospital were in the right place at the wrong time.

Stephen Okinyi, a Form Three student, left their house in Suna West, Migori County, on Wednesday to watch protesters engage police in running battles. His family knew he would be back home in minutes.

The 19-year-old had just returned home from Rabuor Kogello Secondary School to collect school fees. The family allowed him to go and satisfy his curiosity as unrest rocked the town.

Little did they know that would be the last time they were seeing their kin alive. About 20 minutes later, he was fighting for his life after a bullet pierced through his thighs.

The student was among several victims of the protests called by Azimio. At least seven people dead in Nyanza region.

When the guns fell silent and normalcy resumed, several families were in pain as they struggled to come to terms with the pain that had been visited on them.

While some were mourning deceased relatives, others were nursing wounded relatives and waiting for the prospect of being slapped with monstrous hospital bills. Traders, on the other hand, were struggling to pick up the pieces of the financial loss the protests inflicted on them.

In the Nyanza region, seven people died due to the protests, with Kisumu and Kisii recording three deaths each.

When we caught up with Okinyi’s brother, Barack Ochieng, he was yet to come to terms with the student’s death only moments after they had been together.

“He had returned home because of school fees. He had asked to go and see what was happening, and within 20 minutes, we received reports that he had been shot,” said an emotional Ochieng.

The student was first admitted to Oruba Nursing Home before being transferred to a private hospital in Migori town, where he is said to have succumbed to his injuries.

His body was later moved to Migori County Referral Hospital’s morgue.

Migori County Referral Hospital medical superintendent Ian Omuom confirmed that the body of the boy was at the facility’s morgue.

But he was not alone. In Kisumu, the family of a pastor, who was also hit by a bullet, was also in pain as they struggled to come to terms with his demise.

Benard Ochieng, a 43-year-old preacher at Water of Life Church in Kisumu, succumbed to his injuries after police officers allegedly shot him in Kondele.

His brother, also a pastor, John Otana, described the loss as devastating.

In the region, at least 40 people were hospitalised in various hospitals and were nursing various wounds, including gunshot, stab and arrow wounds.

In Kisumu, some 15 people were admitted to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital. Nine of the patients had gunshot wounds.

According to Dr George Rae, the hospital’s CEO, two patients had been operated on due to the nature of their injuries.

“We received 15 people with various injuries. Currently, we have seven of them still admitted with gunshot injuries,” said Rae.

Although the CEO denied that the facility did not receive any bodies, an attendant in the facility’s mortuary confirmed that they received two bodies brought by the police.

In Nyakach, more than 20 people are nursing injuries in various hospitals following the ongoing ethnic clashes between two communities living in Sondu town between Kisumu and Kericho County border.

The clashes erupted after protests began taking place in the region.

According to Daniel Orina, the Assistant County Commissioner for Upper Nyakach Division, the ethnic clashes which began yesterday during the anti-government demonstrations saw residents take on each other with arrows and pangas. One person succumbed to arrow wounds.

Six people were also nursing gunshot wounds at Nyabondo Mission Hospital and Sigowet Hospital in Kericho.

In Siaya, at least seven police officers were nursing wounds they sustained during protests in Bondo town.

According to the sub-county police commander Robert Apoki, the officers were attacked by armed protesters who are believed to have been ferried by area politicians.

The protesters engaged police in running battles for the better part of the day.

According to the police, all the teargas canisters were expended.

He said police teams drawn from Yala and Siaya police stations reinforced the Bondo team at around 5pm, but the violent protests continued past dusk.

Meanwhile, a group of ODM MPs have threatened to sue Interior CS Kithure over the deaths during the Azimio demonstrations.

Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo, Kasipul MP Ong’ondo Were, and Homa Bay Woman Rep Joyce Osogo have condemned the use of bullets on protesters.

Were warned that they would sue Interior CS Kithure Kindiki in the International Criminal Court (ICC) over police brutality meted out to Kenyans.

“They should be ready to answer charges in the ICC if you continue ordering police to kill innocent Kenyans,” Were said.

Dr Gogo said it is wrong to use bullets on Kenyans who are exercising their democratic right through demonstrations.

Protesters arraigned

Their concerns came even as protesters who were arrested were arraigned.

In Kisii, nine protesters were charged before Principal Magistrate Carolyn Ocharo. They were released on Sh3,000 cash bail each.

Busia also recorded the highest number of fatalities in western with three people feared dead by a rogue police officer based in Busia Town even as police records show one death.

The death came from an Occurrence Book report No. 09/13/7/2023 filed at 3.35am Thursday and booked by a quality assurance officer from Bulanda Nursing Home, Justus Obili.

The report at Busia Police Station attributed to the officer reads: “We received an unknown male African adult who sustained gunshot wounds on his thigh. He was bleeding excessively and later succumbed to injuries. He was transferred to Busia County Referral Hospital pending identification and postmortem.”

An Ipoa officer who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity said they were dealing with a case of “a rogue deputy Officer Commanding Station (OCS)” over allegation of him shooting three people dead.

[Clinton Ambujo, Anne Atieno, Isaiah Gwengi, Eric Abuga and James Omoro]