Man wants KFS officers punished for attacking and burning his son

Julius Kipketer lies at Kapsabert County Hospital where he has been undergoing treatment. [Edward Kosut, Standard]

Julius Kipketer was admitted to Kapsabet county hospital after allegedly being brutally assaulted by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers stationed in the Kipsamoite forest.

Kipketer is nursing a back wound that has kept him in the hospital for weeks, and he hopes to challenge the officers' illegal actions after he is discharged.

Kipketer, a resident of Kapchepkok village in Nandi, told The Standard about his terrifying experience at the hands of KFS officers guarding the government forest. While walking through the forest, KFS officers approached him and dragged him to a burning stake of charcoal in the middle of the forest.

"There were over 20 officers, who are normally based at Septonok KFS station. They beat me with clubs and canes, claiming that I was one of those who illegally cut down trees and burned charcoal. My cries for mercy fell on deaf ears," he said.

He went on to say that things got ugly when one of the officers scooped up the burning charcoal and stuffed it into his back.

Kipketer suffered serious burns on his back before some of the officers rescued him from the hands of the male officer during the November 11 incident.

"I was distraught, and some of the officers sympathised with me. They arrested me, took me to Kabiyet police station, and I collapsed in the police cells the next day," he said.

He adds that while he was sick and weak, the OCS ordered him to be rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment.

Kipketer was diagnosed with multiple skin inflammations on his back, according to the hospital report, and he was admitted for two weeks under close medical supervision.

"On November 23, I was released from the hospital and the police used their vehicle to transport me back home to continue my recovery. However, my health deteriorated, and I was referred to Kapsabet County Hospital for additional treatment," he said.

Kipketer said his father, Isaac Tuwei, reported what happened at Kabiyet police station in order to seek justice for his son, but police were hesitant to take action against the rogue officers.

He claimed that some police officers approached him and advised him not to challenge the government, implying that he would eventually lose the case.

"The police failed to investigate the matter as promised and instead, some of the parents of the KFS officers visited me and want to settle the matter amicably. They begged me not to take the case to court.

"However, they did not respond when I requested financial assistance for my son," Tuwei said.

He says he spent more than Sh50,000 on Kipketer's medical expenses from the proceeds of the livestock sale.

"It is illegal for police to torture any unarmed suspect. My son could not have been burned. I want Ipoa and human rights organisations to investigate the officers and take legal action," Tuwei said.

Reuben Muli, the commander of the Nandi North Police Station, confirmed that the suspected officers had been summoned to write statements.

"The investigation has started, and the victim will have to write the statement before taking action of arresting the suspected officers. Any officers involved will face the full force of the law," he stated.

The county commissioner, Herman Shambi, said investigations had been launched and that officers found to be at fault would face disciplinary action.