- Officers accused Margaret of being indisciplined and said she needed to be taught a lesson.
- She was six months pregnant but wanted to give birth first and join high school next year.
A family in Ganze wants the death of their pregnant teenage daughter in a police cell investigated.
Police say Margaret Masha, 17, who was six months pregnant, hanged herself with a headscarf on Tuesday night in Bampa police station.
Ganze subcounty police commander Timothy Muasya said the girl hanged herself from the metal bars on the door to the juvenile cell.
Speaking in his office on Wednesday, he said the girl was booked at the station on Tuesday 5pm as a child in need of care and protection. She was to be arraigned in court the following day, Muasya said.
“The girl was brought to the police station by her mother. She had completed class eight and she was due to join Form 1 but she was found to be pregnant," he said.
"We wanted to take her to court so that in consultation with the Children's department her case could be determined by a panel.”
But Joyce Masha, the girl's mother, rejected the police version. Joyce said she left her daughter at the station at 3pm not 5pm.
The two had gone to the police station to seek a letter allowing Margaret to live with the family of her baby's father until she had given birth and join school next year.
But the officers accused Margaret of being indisciplined and said she needed to be taught a lesson, Joyce said.
"An officer said my daughter was rude and took her to the cells. The officer said my daughter had cut his shirt's buttons and he would teach her a lesson," she said.
The deputy OCS took the action which was appropriate at that time and placed her in the police cells pending determination by the courts.Ganze subcounty police commander Timothy Muasya
Joyce believes her daughter was killed even before she left the station. The mother said one officer started beating her daughter and pushed her into the cells.
“He kicked my daughter hard until I warned him that she was pregnant and she should not be beaten. My daughter started shouting that she will go to school but he pushed him into the cells," Joyce said.
"I heard a loud bang and my daughter went silent. I thought it was the door but I am now certain that it was my daughter they had banged.”
Muasya said the girl became rowdy and started shouting that she was not ready to join high school but wanted to be with the boy who made her pregnant so he could marry her.
“The deputy OCS took the action which was appropriate at that time and placed her in the police cells pending determination by the courts. Having been placed at around 5PM in the police cells. That was during the day shift," he said.
"The officers changed shifts at 6pm according to the report I got from there. As they opened the door to hand over they found the girl dangling from the door of the cells. I went to the station and visited the scene with officers from the DCI.”
Joyce said she left her daughter at the police station at 3pm and went to Kilifi town to await the court appearance the next day.
On arriving at the town at 7pm she got a call from the area chief who informed her that Margaret was very sick.
“I wondered how she became sick yet she was in good health. I was later informed that she had hanged herself in the cells,” Joyce said.
She, however, refused to believe the suicide narrative.
“My daughter had a scarf around her neck but she appeared to be in a peaceful sleep. Her neck looked okay and her mouth was shut. Her eyes were closed too. These things are not synonymous with people who commit suicide," Joyce said.
He kicked my daughter hard until I warned him that she was pregnant and she should not be beaten. My daughter started shouting that she will go to school but he pushed him into the cellsMother Joyce Masha
"Most people who hang themselves have their tongues out and eyes popping. My daughter was murdered. There was fresh blood oozing from her private parts. My daughter was murdered while I was still there. The suicide is a cover-up.”
Katana Masha, Margaret's uncle who was among relatives called to view the body in the cell, said she was leaning against the wall near the door with her feet on the ground.
“I find it hard to believe that she hanged herself. The grip on the neck was not tight enough to suffocate someone to death,” Katana said.
A mason who built the police station said it is not possible for anyone to commit suicide in the cells.
“The ceiling is about eight feet from the floor. The opening on the door is about four feet which is too low even for a short person to hang themselves. This is foul play,” he said
Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Elizabeth Randu asked why the body was removed from the scene at night.
“All the lights at the station were switched off at around 8pm and no one was allowed to go to the station. The body was removed at around 1am on Wednesday and taken to the mortuary,”she said.
Unconfirmed reports indicate all the people who were in the cells were released unconditionally during the night.
The body was moved to Kilifi police station awaiting postmortem.
Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya