EXPOSED TO PANDEMIC

Lamu police cells congested, no masking or sanitiser — residents

Arrested persons recount being thrown into dingy and overcrowded cells.

In Summary
  • The irony is that the majority are arrested for flouting Covid-19 rules like not wearing their face masks.
  • But Lamu county police commander Moses Murithi dismissed the allegations.

The Covid-19 protocols are not being adhered to in Lamu police cells, residents have said.

Arrested persons recounted being thrown into dingy and overcrowded cells where they are unable to observe social distance, sanitise or even put on their face masks.

The majority are arrested for flouting Covid-19 rules like not wearing their face masks but are still exposed to even worse conditions by being put in overcrowded cells where they can easily contract or spread the disease.

Lamu community leader Mohamed Abdulkadir asked police to ensure all Covid-19 protocols are observed during the arrest and confinement of suspects as they await to be bailed out or taken to court.

“We have had situations where otherwise healthy people have contracted Covid-19 from the cells and ended up dead or very sick. We want to see the police take precautions to ensure that doesn’t happen any more,”  Abdulkadir said.

Community leaders asked police to be courteous and provide free face masks to members of the public found walking around without them, instead of arresting them only to dump them in cells where they risk getting sick.

“We want a scenario where a police officer gives the offender a face mask instead of arresting them now that we know the conditions in the cells are not safe from Covid-19,” Muhashaim Seif said.

But Lamu county police commander Moses Murithi dismissed the allegations and said there is a clear plan to deal with offenders since the pandemic broke out in the country.

“All suspects with minor offences are released on cash bail or free bond in order to prevent any form of congestion in the cells and this has greatly helped curb the spread of the virus in the cells,” Murithi said.

He said no one had contracted Covid-19 in the cells since the first incident was reported in Kenya.

“All suspects awaiting processing in cells at Lamu Town, Mpeketoni, Witu, and Faza police stations as well as convicts at the Hindi prison always have their face masks intact,” he added.

He said all persons including relatives of those in the cells or prisons entering or leaving police stations and prisons also undergo thorough inspection and have their temperatures recorded as a way of curbing the spread of coronavirus.

“We've enough face masks within our prison and the police cells. Before suspects join others in cells, we always ensure their body temperature is taken. We've enough thermoguns in our police stations and prisons. We're also encouraging people to wash hands when entering or leaving the stations and prisons," Murithi said.

Edited by Henry Makori