Student assaulted by KFS rangers succumbs to injuries

Stephen Mwangi's mother Mary Wamboi (right) with her kin during the interview with 'The Standard'. [Lynn Kolongei, Standard]

Stephen Mwangi, a Form Three student who was allegedly assaulted by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) rangers in Eldama Ravine, Baringo County a week ago, has succumbed to injuries.

The 19-year-old who was a student at Maji Mazuri RC Secondary School was admitted to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) Eldoret in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with severe head injuries, broken ribs and legs.

He succumbed to the injuries at around 11 pm on Monday.

His mother Mary Wamboi now wants the police to launch investigations into the incident and charge the rangers with murder.

Wamboi said her son’s only mistake was to intervene to save her from torture by the rangers guarding Koibatek forest.

She had been accompanied by Mwangi to the farm on the fateful day of May 8.

Wamboi narrated that after completing work on the farm, she went to fetch firewood in the forest before KFS rangers arrested her.

“I was uprooting a decomposed tree stamp before the officers came and started harassing me. One of them demanded Sh2,000 failure to which, they would take me to their station in Eldama Ravine for booking and prosecution,” she claimed.

She said her pleas to have the amount reduced fell on deaf ears. She called Mwangi who was home to go to a neighbour and get more money.

Wamboi recounted that the rangers declined to allow her to use the washroom.

“They (KFS officers) told me to relieve myself in front of my 11-year-old son. I objected to that and they said I was rude. They harassed me and began sexually assaulting me, that is the moment my son Mwangi arrived,” she claimed.

She said Mwangi asked the officers to stop assaulting her but they instead descended on him with blows and kicks.

“I was handcuffed and my pleas to spare my son fell on deaf ears. I tried shouting and calling for help from passersby but the officers fired three gunshots to scare them away,” she said.

Wamboi recorded a statement before being transferred to Eldama Ravine Police Station where she was put in custody.

 She said the officers told her that her son sustained injuries and would be taken to hospital.

“The next day, I was released on Sh6,000 police cash bail and was to be arraigned in court later. I was told my son was at Eldama Ravine Hospital and was later moved to a hospital in Nakuru,” she said.

Wamboi revealed that when she got to the hospital, her son’s condition had worsened. She questioned why his health had deteriorated in a span of hours yet he was not in bad shape during arrest.

“He was neither talking nor eating. He had difficulty breathing. He just lay on the bed. Some people who were at the hospital told me that the officers had continued assaulting my son while at the hospital. He was handcuffed,” she claimed.

The mother of six was informed that Mwangi needed specialised treatment and would be referred to MTRH. She was asked to pay for the ambulance fee.

“I had to sell my donkey and sheep in order to pay for the ambulance. I hoped that my son would get well so that we could get justice for him but now I am mourning my son who should have reported to school on Monday,” said Wamboi.

Samuel Mugo, an uncle to the deceased said the officers should have only arrested the duo instead of assaulting them.

Wamboi reported her son’s assault to Eldama Ravine Police Station.

KFS said that the matter was under investigation by the National Police Service.

“We take these allegations seriously and are committed to getting to the bottom of the matter. KFS undertakes to fully cooperate to ensure a thorough and impartial investigation into the matter,” said KFS.