YOU STUPID SWAHILI WOMAN

Activist assaulted in Immigration office

Haki Africa's deputy executive director was attacked on Tuesday at Immigration office

In Summary

• Salma Hemed suffered head, neck and back injuries after a male immigration officer allegedly accused her of trying to teach him how to do his job.

• She had gone to ask about two pregnant women who complained that they been forced to queue for more than seven hours.

 

Haki Africa deputy executive director Salma Hemed in her hospital bed on Wednesday.
INJURED: Haki Africa deputy executive director Salma Hemed in her hospital bed on Wednesday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI
Human rights activists at Salma Hemed's hospital bed on Wednesday.
RIGHTS DEFENDER: Human rights activists at Salma Hemed's hospital bed on Wednesday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Mombasa rights activist Salma Hemed went to the Immigration office on Tuesday to ask about two pregnant women who had complained that they had to queue for more than seven hours for service.

Hemed is the deputy executive director of Haki Africa and rights activists protested on Wednesday against the assault.

As a result of her inquiry, Hemed said, she was beaten up by a male Immigration officer who called her a stupid Swahili woman, seized her neck and shoved her against a wall.

"Are you trying to teach me how ow to do my job," Hemed quoted him as saying. She spoke to reporters from her hospital bed on Wednesday. 

She suffered head, neck and back injuries

Mombasa human rights activists on Wednesday protested the assault.

The attack occurred at the Immigration offices at Uhuru na Kazi Building, which also houses offices of the Coast regional coordinator and the Mombasa county commissioner.

Coast regional Immigration boss Charles Muendo on Wednesday confirmed receiving reports about the assault. He said human rights activists complained.

“They came to the office and told me they had already talked to the press,” Muendo told the Star on the phone.

He said I am just a Swahili woman and called me stupid.
Salma Hemed

The officer was not identified.

On Wednesday, Haki Africa executive director Hussein Khalid said the violence showed impunity of the highest order.

“This is a sign that things are not right in public offices,” he said. Khalid urged DCI to probe the violence and ensure the office who attacked his deputy is disciplined.

“We are awaiting the doctor’s report so we can fill in a P3 form and institute legal proceedings against him [the Immigration offier], he said.

Hemed told reporters, “I had gone to follow up on a case after two pregnant women complained to us that they had been made to wait for more than seven hours for service at the Immigration offices."

Speaking from her hospital bed, she said the Immigration officer became angry, grabbed her necked and shoved her against a wall.

I had gone to follow up on a case after two pregnant women complained to us that they had been forced to queue for more than seven hours.
Salma Hemed

“He said I am just a Swahili woman and called me stupid,” Hemed said. 

Kenya Community Support Centre executive director Phyllis Muema said the Immigration office is a public office that must respond to the public professionally.

“It is a shame that it happened where the Coast regional coordinator and the Mombasa county commissioner have offices. It shows a lack of respect,” she said.

Mwema said the officer is unfit and should be dismissed. “Violence against women is barbaric and so backward,” she said.

Hemed’s sister, Najma Hemed, said she has not been able to take care of her family since she was admitted to hospital on Tuesday evening.

“Now her children are suffering because a public officer was discriminating against the whole Swahili community and women,” Najma said.

(Edited by V. Graham)