POLICE CELL TRAGEDY

Protests in Bondo town after suspect dies in police custody

26-year-old Vitalis Okinda died on Monday night while in the hands of the police.

In Summary

• 26-year-old Vitalis Okinda died on Monday night while in the hands of the police, according to the family.

• The deceased's mother Angelin Okinda told the Star that her son was arrested on Friday by the police and held at Bondo police station.

Crime scene.
CRIME SCENE: Crime scene.
Image: THE STAR

The mysterious death of a suspect who was being held by the police sparked protests in Bondo Town on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the family, 26-year-old Vitalis Okinda died on Monday night while in the hands of the police.

The deceased's mother Angelin Okinda told the Star that her son was arrested on Friday by the police and held at Bondo police station.

She claimed that on Thursday, her third born son visited the sub-county hospital to have a Covid-19 jab.

"He went to the hospital while riding on his motorcycle but fell out with the watchmen manning the hospital's gates after the security barred him from accessing the facility with his bike, " she said on Tuesday.

The deceased mother says the security guards called the police from Bondo police station who came and took away his motorbike while he was inside the facility receiving the vaccine.

"The following day, a friend of my son who is a police officer advised him to go to the station to get his bike," she said on phone.

But when he presented himself to the police, he was arrested and detained at the station.

According to the mother, police later charged her son with assault, resisting arrest and being in possession of 21 rolls of bhang.

"I spoke with him on Sunday afternoon when I went to see him at the station. A police officer told me to give out Sh40,000 to secure his release but because we couldn't raise the money, I asked them to arraign him," she said.

On Tuesday morning, the family received news of their son's mysterious death from a friend.

"He went to my husband's shop in town and informed him that our son had died at the station, " she said.

According to the family, the suspect was beaten up by the police while being held in the police cells.

"When we went to the police to establish what happened, we were told that our son became unconscious and was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead," she said.

"But we have information that the morgue attendant picked the body from the police cells after being asked to do so by the OCS," she claimed.

The body had visible physical injuries, according to the deceased's mother.

"He had wounds all over and had swellings as well on most parts," she said.

She added that they recovered the shirt he wore which was soaked in blood. His vest was missing, according to his mother.

While confirming the incident, Bondo Sub-county police commander Roseline Chebosho told the Star that on Monday night,  she received a phone call from one of the senior officers that one of the suspects was seriously ill.

It was some minutes to midnight.

"I directed that the suspect be rushed to the hospital. However, we were informed that the suspect died moments later but not at the police cells," she said.

She said the suspect was arrested on Saturday.

"He was arrested after he assaulted one of our officers. He tried to resist arrest after the officers conducted a search on a bag he was having which had 29 rolls of bhang," she said.

The OCPD said that the Investigations officer prepared a file which was handed over to the office of the director of public prosecution on Monday.

"The file was taken to court but we are not aware why he was not arraigned," she said.

It is a requirement that suspects be taken to court within 24 hours upon arrest.

She told the Star that the incident was being probed by the office of DCIO in charge of the sub-county.

" I have directed the DCIO to take up the case so that we establish what really happened," she said.

She spoke as it emerged that the family had contacted independent Police oversight authority (IPOA) to probe circumstances surrounding the death of their son.