Stray bullet cost Kakamega man his leg and dreams of being a pilot
By Nathan Ochunge | October 17th 2021
Daniel Mukabi, 31, remembers the tragic events of December 31, 2007.
He was basking in the morning sun, enjoying the soothing music from his small radio.
He was in high spirits and looking forward to the day’s activities.
However, a few minutes later, he felt sharp on his right leg. Something was wrong. He was bleeding and the excruciating pain made him dizzy. A stray bullet had hit his leg.
“It all happened on December 31, 2007, a few days after the announcement of the presidential elections that sparked protests and skirmishes. Irate ODM supporters were engaging General Service Unit (GSU) officers in running battles claiming that the elections had been rigged out. They barricaded the road and lit bonfires along Kakamega - Mumias highway, paralysing activities,” he told The Nairobian.
Mukabi recalls how heavily armed GSU officers were shooting in the air just outside his father’s compound, but he did not expect a stray bullet would land on him.
“I heard five gunshots, before a man, writhing in pain, entered my parents compound with a heavily armed GSU officer in hot pursuit. Two more gunshots and the next thing I saw was blood oozing from my right leg. Things happened so fast,” says Mukabi.
“My sister was busy cleaning utensils a few metres from where I was sitting, I called out for help. The herd boy who escaped into our compound had been shot in the stomach and was lying on the ground.”
Mukabi, who hails from Emusanga village in Lurambi sub-county, was a student at Ikonyero Secondary School.
His mother, Deborah Achieng, made a distress call that alerted neighbours, among them a nurse, who performed first aid on Mukabi, before he was rushed to nearby Elwesero health centre.
As they were rushing to the health centre, they were accosted by GSU officers who started beating them up.
“The trigger-happy officers cared less and accused us of being the ring leaders of the protests. They ordered my father, mother and a family friend to collect the burning tyres from the road and continued to beat them up,” he says.
He goes on: “They allowed us to proceed to the health centre where we were referred to KGH, but the facility was full to capacity and we ended up at Mbale Hospital in Vihiga County. I had a bullet lodged on my knee and I was in a lot of pain”.
The herd boy later succumbed to the bullet wounds.
“I was not receiving any treatment at Mbale hospital so I was discharged on January 1, 2008. I was referred to Kakamega General Hospital for specialised treatment.”
After five days at the facility, the bullet had not been removed from his knee and after much pressure from his parents, the doctors agreed to operate on him.
Mukabi, who had been unconscious woke up to find his right leg amputated.
The father of two says the doctors did their best to save his life, but could not save his leg since the bullet had severed his veins.
When he was discharged one week later, Mukabi had to learn how to walk with crutches.
Luckily, in 2014, a samaritan purchased Mukabi prostheses.
“The crutches were causing me a lot of pain and frequent injuries. The artificial feet came in handy. I could walk again.”
Mukabi says he continues to experience pain and persistent headache whenever it is cold.
“I can hardly do some tasks because my body has never gone back to normal.”
He recalls Raila Odinga visiting him in hospital and asked the facility to waive bills for bullet wounds victims.
“He (Raila) promised to support my education but I have not been able to meet him 14 years later. I would like to ask the government to compensate me because I cannot support myself.”
Mukabi says he spent all his savings on footing his hospital bills and other expenses.
“The incident changed my life for the worse. The bullet wound left me with a permanent disability and there are some activities that I can no longer engage in. I had to close my shop which was my source of livelihood,” he adds.
While his life was spared, his dreams of becoming a pilot were shattered by a single bullet.
Mukabi now works as a street photographer in Kakamega town.
Mukabi’s mother claimed to have suffered a fractured backbone after the beating by GSU officers and has been on painkillers.
“We held several sessions by the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) who promised to help us get compensated but nothing happened,” says Mukabi.
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