Apologise, families of police killings tell Koome

Patrick Ouma and Everlyn Achungo speak about the two cousins, one of whom was their son, allegedly killed by police in Nyalenda and who were yet to be buried. [Michael Mute, Standard]

Several families who lost their kin in the protests in parts of Nyanza still struggle to prepare for the burial even as they battle trauma.

The pain they went through at the hands of police officers is still fresh, and families who claim police officers took away their breadwinners are still unable to contend with the loss of their loved ones.

A spot check by The Standard at the homes of some of the victims established that some are still unable to foot the burial bills. The bodies of their loved ones are still at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) mortuary.

This trashes the statements made by the Inspector General of Police, Japhet Koome, who claimed that opposition leaders had hired bodies in mortuaries to taint the image of the police.

On Wednesday, at Nyalenda slums which bore the brunt of police brutality, a family who lost two sons were still making burial preparations for the double tragedy they attribute to police brutality.

Brian Oniang'o,22, and William Amulele, 24, died days apart while undergoing treatment at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital about two weeks ago.

The Standard also documented the medical journey of the two brothers as they battled for survival at the ICU, moments after they were shot by police officers.

Yesterday, Eveline Akhala, the mother of the two boys, shed a tear as she recounted the comments made by the IG.

She said the huge financial burden that comes with two funerals had delayed their plans to give the two boys a sendoff.

"We have planned to bury them next week. Is there any parent who can take the bodies of their children to a mortuary and give it to politicians?" she posed.

She recounted how she struggled to save their lives after being assaulted by police officers.

"When I took my sons to JOOTRH, they were not yet dead but unconscious. They were still breathing. After they died in the hospital. We did a postmortem, and I still have the documents with me. My sons were beaten up by police and that is what caused their death," she said.

She has urged the IG to withdraw the statement and apologize to the victims saying that no parent can trade with the lives of their children, whether dead or alive.

She says her sons were assaulted on July 21. On a fateful day, the distraught mother claims her attempts to rescue her sons, including putting her own body on the line and suffering beatings herself from police officers, all failed.

A few weeks before the unfortunate attack, her sons had moved into a single-room rented house next to her house as they struggled to make ends meet. While William worked as a waiter at a Kisumu restaurant, his younger brother hoped to join college and had opted to move out of their mother’s house to kick-start their life.

On the fateful day, she says, her sons had locked themselves in their house and did not leave the house. Little did they know that the angel of death would come knocking at their door in the form of uniformed police officers.

“At around 3 p.m., we heard neighbours screaming as police officers walked from door to door and beat up anyone they found,” she says.

Unfortunately, she claims the police officers managed to break the door of the single room where her sons had been staying and started beating them up.

She claimed she only heard screams from a neighbour who was calling her to come out of her house and rescue her sons.

“I heard a neighbour screaming and shouting to me to come out. When I rushed out, I found Brian and William being beaten up by a dozen of police officers. I kneeled and pleaded with the officers, but my pleas fell on deaf ears,” she narrates.

According to her, the IG owes the families of the victims an apology for his remarks.

"Koome should speak as an adult and as a parent. He shouldn't have said such a thing. That's very disrespectful to us (the victims)," she said.

According to Ms Trizah Mware, who is the secretary to the burial committee, they are yet to raise adequate resources for the burial even as they intend to bury this weekend.

"As of now, we are proceeding with burial preparations. We plan to bury them on separate days. Brian, we'll bury on Saturday the 12th, while William will be buried on the 19th. We have tried as a family, but we still have a huge shortage. We are appealing to our leaders and any well-wisher to come and support us," Mware said.

At Mowlem estate in Kisumu, Ms Lilian Okoth is worried and depressed. His 17-year-old son Fidel Castro Ochieng' who was shot nine times by police on the second day of the Azimio demonstrations is still traumatized.

Although he has already been discharged from JOOTRH where he was hospitalized with nine gunshot wounds, the student is yet to recover.

According to Lilian, her son, who was a form four student at Bishop Abiero Secondary School in Kisumu, has been behaving strangely ever since they left the hospital.

"We left the hospital on Friday last week after Fidel had been treated, but now he's been behaving strangely. He keeps shouting at me that we should leave because police are coming, and they might kill us the way they killed Elvis," she stated.

Lilian was advised by friends to seek counselling for her and her son.

"I have been advised by a friend to take him for counselling at a facility in Tom Mboya estate," he added.

The family of another victim, Fanuel Ochieng, who was shot in Kondele, said they laid him to rest on Saturday.

"The post-mortem results showed that he succumbed to a bullet wound. We are broken, and it is unfortunate how some people are demonstrating a lack of empathy," said Perez Obado, an aunt to the deceased.

Yesterday, Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o condemned Koome and challenged him to visit JOOTRH to confirm the records of those killed.

"Mr Koome must stop mocking the families of those who were killed and maimed during the protests. He must stop politicizing grave security issues involving the killing of innocent civilians," said Nyong'o.

Records in the county's health department indicate that 107 patients were treated during the protests. Some 47 of them were treated for gunshot wounds.

An independent report released by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and Amnesty International indicates that 24 people died in Kisumu and Kisii during the anti-government protests.

In Kisumu, about 16 people succumbed to their injuries.