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Chaos in Malaba as police enforcing Covid-19 rules kill student

By Ignatius Odanga | November 28th 2020 at 13:33:53 GMT +0300

Malaba residents demonstrate the killing of a Form Two student by police officers who were arresting people without masks on Friday. [Ignatius Odanga, Standard]

Chaos has rocked Malaba town since Friday following the killing of a 20-year-old student by police enforcing Covid-19 regulations.

Locals marched to Malaba Police Station, blocked the Malaba-Bungoma highway and lit bonfire on the road to express their anger over the killing of the student.

Ezekiel Odera is reported to have succumbed to gunshot wounds he sustained on Friday after being shot by police on patrol in Malaba town.

Odera, a Form Two Student at Kolanya Boys Secondary School, was pronounced dead at Kocholia sub-county hospital where he had been rushed by his friends after the incident.

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He was hit by a police bullet while in a crowd that had resisted arrest at Malaba town leading to a scuffle with the police which prompted the latter to shoot at the crowd.

 “He had just arrived in town as locals tried to stop police from arresting people who had no mask, chaos started and police aimed at the crowd and unfortunately the bullet killed my brother,” said Moses Okiru, the deceased brother.

Odera’s mother Magret Okiru accused police of using excessive force to enforce the Covid-19 protocols.

She said she would have paid a fine had her son been taken to court instead of being killed.

“Police who killed my son should tell me why he did so,” said Magret.

She described her son as a humble and hardworking person who did all he could to ensure the family gets what to eat.

The deceased’s father Victor Odera said he was shocked by the death of the son.

 “My son died a bitter death, he did not deserve to die that way, we hope the investigation will be done and the culprit arraigned for justice to be served,” he said.

According to the family, Odera was until his death washing motorbikes and vehicles near a roadblock in Malaba town to keep himself afloat.

Condemnation

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong condemned the incident, adding that he was aware of complaints from locals that police officers were harassing them.

He pledged to meet those in charge of security in the county including County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri and County Police Commander John Nyoike to find out the best ways possible to enforce regulations without necessarily harassing the locals.

The governor called on the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to intervene and also conduct the investigation.

Ojaamong accused the police of turning the issue of the mask into an extortion racket, adding that individuals arrested are forced to bribe the officers to be released.

“What happened in Malaba is regrettable. Police should embrace the culture of telling people to wear masks not to harass and arrest them so that they give out money and later released,” said Ojaamong.

He said the officer who fired the bullet has been arrested and already in custody and investigation has been commenced.”

Area Woman Rep Florence Mutua also condemned the incident and called for a thorough investigation with the view of ensuring that the family gets justice.

Contacted for comment, Nyoike promised to brief the media once he gets the details of the shooting.


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