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Families speak out on horror of police killings in Huruma

Residents of Kiamaiko in Huruma, Nairobi now want the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to probe suspected extrajudicial killings by security officers targeting the youth.

In exclusive interviews with Nairobi News, five families recounted how their children aged between 16 and 17 were allegedly killed by police officers.

The most recent shooting incident was on May 17, 2015, at Ghetto area within Kiamaiko when a 17-year-old boy was shot dead by an officer.

According to the relatives, the deceased, Stephen Gichuru, was not a criminal but an acrobat who also coached other young people in the area.

“The officer was said to have approached him at around 8am and shot him at his right jaw; then after he fell down he went ahead and shot him on his lower abdomen,” said Ruth Mumbi, a sister-in-law of the deceased.

Eyewitnesses said the young man was unarmed and begged the officer to spare his life. His pleas fell on deaf ears.

DEATH THREATS

Another victim, Chris Ndwiga, from the same area was killed in January this year and his body dumped at a coffee farm in Kiamumbi area, off Kamiti road.

The 17-year-old was said to have received threats from officers based at the Huruma police post.

His widowed mother told Nairobi News how her son kept calling her and asking if she was safe the week before he died.

“I never understood why he was always in fear; he even moved back to my house,” she said.

“The night before he was killed he called me at around 9pm to tell me he had closed a mitumba shop he was manning and was heading home. I told him to bring me some flu medication because I was unwell,” said Mrs Ndwiga.

Her calls to her son later that night went unanswered and after two days of searching, they found his body at the City Mortuary having been booked as “unidentified male”.

Another mother, whose standard eight son was shot mid last year, said she only heard gunshots at the estate’s playground and later learnt that her child had been shot.

Mary Wanjiku, whose 17-year-old son was also killed, told Nairobi News that she had lived with him in the same house and had never seen him come home late or even in possession of stolen items.

‘TOLD HE WAS A THIEF’

“On inquiring why he had been shot, I was told he was a thief yet the boy has never even been reported to have stolen anything whether at home or in school,” she said.

Another mother who neighbours Ms Wanjiku also narrated her ordeal of coming face to face with a defaced lifeless body of her son.

“My son had just prepared lunch when he packed his sports shoes and told me he was going to the field to practise,” said Mama Lincoln.

The single mother narrated how she heard gunshots later that day and her curiosity made her want to find out what was happening.

“As I went towards the area where the gunshots were coming from, I heard people saying that some boys had been killed,” she said.

On arrival at the field where the shots had been fired she found the body of her son lying lifeless at the scene that security officers were already cordoning off.

Like Ms Wanjiku, Mama Lincoln says her son had never been arrested and she had never been invited at school for bad behavior.

Kiamaiko Location Chief Bernard Kanzika blamed the parents in the area for covering up for their criminal sons.

During an interview with Nairobi News at his office, Mr Kanzika said none of the young boys shot by police was innocent and were known for engaging in criminal activities.

“They have been recruited in gangs by older people who intoxicate them with alcohol and bhang and send them on missions to rob people in broad daylight,” he said.

Mr Kanzika added that most parents are aware of their children’s behaviours and some adults even encourage them by telling them not to flee towards the direction where police are after they have robbed people.

“On Friday, a lady was robbed at around 7pm at Ghetto area by four young boys who surrounded her and one held a knife near her abdomen. After they had taken her valuables she started screaming and as the boys were running a woman shouted at them not to go towards that direction as there were policemen there. They detoured and ran towards the shanties,” said the chief.

REHABILITATION PROGRAMS

Mr Kanzika added that there have been rehabilitation programs started by his office in partnership with institutions like The National Hidden Talent Academy and Mother Teresa Mission.

But he complained that some of the children taken to the rehabilitation always find a way of going back to their old neighbourhoods.

“A 15-year-old daughter of an area Chairlady was recently arrested and arraigned in court for being in possession of bhang. She confessed that she was used by members of a notorious gang to transport and sell the drugs. She is now serving a 3-year sentence,” he said.

The chief admitted that more needs to be done for parents to be educated on how to handle change of behavior in their children and how they can seek help including rehabilitation.