Families in Nairobi have been left to mourn their kin after a spike in extrajudicial killings that have cast a dark shadow over Mathare, Kasarani and Majengo settlements.
A report authored by Human Rights Watch on February 20, 2020 provided that at least eight people had died in indiscriminate police killings since December 25, 2019.
Human Rights Watch interviewed residents of the affected areas to establish how the killings took place. The witnesses gave harrowing accounts of those who stared down the barrel of a police gun.
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Brian Mung’aru and Peter Irungu from Mathare did not realize that they would not see another Christmas when the police picked them up on December 25, 2019.
According to witness reports, four police in civilian clothing picked them up along with two other youth at 5.30 p.m outside Good Samaritan Children’s home in Mathare.
Mathare residents identified the four officers as members of the infamous Pangani Six squad. The squad has been implicated in numerous killings in the area recorded over the year 2019.
After the officers picked up the youth, they did a body search and on finding no weapons proceeded to slap punch and kick the youths while they interrogated them.
The officers released two of the youth, Felix Ouma and Daniel Gitau, who were free to go home. This was not the fate of Brian Mung’aru and Peter Irungu who were led away.
Aman Petrol Station, just a kilometer and a half away from where the two had been picked up, would mark the end of the road for the two.
A witness who was present during the time, working at the matatu bus top near the police station relieved the events of the day as they transpired.
“The officer shot Irungu on his right arm. Irungu fell into the drainage on the roadside. Mung’aru fainted at the sound of the gunshot, ” reported the witness.
Irungu, badly injured, tried to crawl to safety but the officers shot him several times in the back, killing him instantly.
The officer then kicked Mungaru’s still unconscious body into the drain and then shot him several times.
According to another witness, the officers collected all the evidence at the scene including bullets and spent cartridges. A few minutes later a police vehicle came to collect the bodies.
Accounts of the incident are conflicting, in Pangani Police Station official records say the two were killed in a violent robbery incident in Mathare.
The police commander on the other hand described the killings as “a shootout between police officers and three thugs.”
Stephen Muchurusi, a 19-year-old, who held work as a matatu operator also met his death at the hands of police.
Muchurusi was one of the protestors in the peaceful demonstrations for a better road in Kasarani.
The protests started on January 13 and two days later on January 15, anti-riot police were deployed to suppress the protests.
They commenced to beat and kick those who were on the streets, lob tear gas and shoot live bullets randomly into the crowds.
A witness who saw the killing provided that the police shot the Muchurusi on the street.
“Around 1 p.m., an officer who was firing his gun randomly aimed at Muchurusi, who was kneeling, and shot him in the chest.”
The killing of Ahmed Majid, 24 years, captured national attention. Majid met his death after asking the police to stop dragging his friend, Yassin Athuman, to the station. He requested that they either let him walk or carry him.
The killing took place on January 16, a few minutes before midday. According to eyewitness reports, the officers had arrested Yassin on marijuana charges. They handcuffed him and were dragging him along the ground when Majid intervened.
An officer slapped him down and shot him in the chest while he lay on the ground. Majid’s killing ignited furious protests the same afternoon.
It was during these protests that another man, Samuel Chegero Barasa, 35, died by a police bullet.
According to his wife, Alice Andeso, Barasa had locked himself in the house when the police started firing into the crowd. It was here that he came to his untimely death after a stray bullet pierced through the iron sheets that made up the walls of their house and went through his head.
Andeso was with her 3-year-old son when they found his body lying in a pool of blood in the small quarters.
Human Rights Watch has documented at least eight extra-judicial killings in the three weeks after Christmas. Of these, only the two killings in Mathare and Masjid’s death are under investigation.
There are no ongoing investigations into the other killings.