VICTIMS NARRATE TOLL OF PEV

'Will we ever get justice for Kisumu police cruelty?'

Rapes, beatings, killings, police fury and indifference to suffering and wounds that will never heal

In Summary

• Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) and other CSOs are getting victims' statements before filing suit against the State on behalf of PEV sufferers

•Muhuri rapid response officer Francis Auma said the suit will target individual officers for brutality and use of excessive force

 

Lenzer Achieng, mother of six-month-old Samantha Pendo who died during an August 2017 Kisumu crackdown, holds her daughter's picture inside her home on January 25, 2018
BABY PENDO: Lenzer Achieng, mother of six-month-old Samantha Pendo who died during an August 2017 Kisumu crackdown, holds her daughter's picture inside her home on January 25, 2018
Image: REUTERS

It was sombre in Kisumu's Kondele Social Justice Center in Kisumu as residents wept and shared heart-rending tales of police rape, beatings and torture during the 2017 post-election violence.

They said on Wednesday that all their attempts to get justice through regular channels failed. Now they are now depending on human rights organisations to file suit on their behalf.

Muhuri rapid response officer Francis Auma said the suit or suits will target individual officers. Compensation and damages will be sought.

“I was raped by the people who were supposed to protect me when chaos broke out," said a 48-year-old woman. We'll call her Nancy, not her real name.

When chaos erupted after presidential results were announced, she was going home to Kondele as police started quelling protests that broke out in the county.

She said as gunshots came closer and tear gas billowed around, she started running but met three police officers in a corner.

“One pushed me to the ground. Another told me we were the people directing our sons to create chaos to chaos, as he beat me," Nancy said.

"I pleaded in vain, one hit my legs, another tore my clothes before they raped me in turns," she said weeping.

It's still it as if it were happening now. It won't go away, though the wounds have healed, this pain remains."

They threatened to kill her if she screamed.

Then she went home, told her daughter to bring water. She cleaned herself and took antibiotics.

"I just told her I was beaten by the police," Nancy said.

The next day she went to Kondele police station to report but was turned away. Later in the week she met other women rape survivors and together they reported at the Central police station.

"One day I hope for justice," she said.

Due to the stigma attached to rape, she had to relocate to another estate where people didn't know her.

Many men and women who suffered sexual violence remained silent for fear of their safety and stigma.

Another survivor Mary Jane (not her real name), now age 30, was raped by men in uniform inside her house. 

She said officers were beating people and dragging some from their houses. They knocked down her door and found her sitting in a chair.

“I couldn't move. They pointed fingers and made accusations. One walked out. The other demanded his 'right'. Then he covered my mouth and raped me," Mary Jane said.

Neighbours heard what transpired "and the looks I got were so scary that I stopped taking my ARVs. I could not even go out. I just kept to myself."

Then women who fight for human rights came to her rescue, counselled and supported her.

"That's why I'm here today, hoping for justice," she said.

Mary Akinyi, 54, is still in pain and bears the scar where a bullet hit her stomach while she was home in Manyatta.

She heard a loud bang on the door and didn't realise the bullet passed through the door and wounded her. She fell down and lost two teeth.

Mary woke up at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital where she stayed for two months.

She underwent two surgeries and had a bill of more than Sh80,000. Had it not been for then Governor Jack Ranguma, she could not have paid.

“My family lives in abject poverty since am the breadwinner and have not been able to work full time due to frequent pain."

Daniel Indimuli could not hold back tears as he narrated how he lost his two children.

Indimuli said they were in the house when they heard gunshots in  Kondele Port Jesus area.

"I decided to go out and see because the bullets were too much. I left my kids at home but the bullets pierced through the iron sheet walls and killed them," he said.

His 27-year-old son had a bullet in his head. His 11-year-old daughter was lying in blood, several gunshots to the chest.

"The loss of my children shattered my family and we have never been the same," Indimuli said.

After his children were buried in Kaimosi, his wife fell ill and became blind.

"Today we are helpless, depending on well-wishers," he said, adding that he hopes the government will come to their rescue.

The survivors said they have abandoned hope of justice and said they have seen no benefits of the handshake.

Civil society groups have initiated the process of suing the government over the atrocities committed against Nyanza PEV victims.

The groups include Kondele Community Social Justice Centre, Muslims for Human Rights, Women Concern Center, Transform Empowerment for Action Initiative (TEAM) and Kisumu City Residents' Voice.

They are profiling victims and collecting statements before filing suit.

They also intend to seek compensation and damages for rape, beatings, torture and killings of innocent Kisumu residents.

Boniface Akach, the founder of the Kondele Centre, said many PEV victims still walk around with serious bullet wounds and others lost all their property.

“We advise victims to record statements with us, providing copies of medical records, OB numbers, P3 forms and any evidence,"  he said.