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December 19, 2018

Two GSUs to testify in Pendo probe in October

Former Karachuonyo MP Phoebe Asiyo and Lenser Achieng(Baby pendo's monther) in their home in Nyalenda.
Former Karachuonyo MP Phoebe Asiyo and Lenser Achieng(Baby pendo's monther) in their home in Nyalenda.

The Baby Pendo inquest will continue in October with the testimonies of two General Service Unit officers.

Constables Jeffer Omar and Evans Kibet could not appear before the court on Friday as they were on assignment in Boni Forest.

The court heard they failed to account for their ammunition after they concluded their operation in Nyalenda slum during

 last year’s election.

Six-month-old Samantha Pendo was killed during post-election protests in Nyalenda last August.

Her parents said she was asleep in her mother’s arms when she was teargassed and clubbed by police who invaded their home looking for protesters.

Residents in the Opposition stronghold started demonstrations after the electoral commission declared President Uhuru Kenyatta defeated Raila Odinga. 

Police moved in to quell the protests. A postmortem showed Baby Pendo died after suffering severe head injuries that left

 her with fractures.

In November then Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko ordered a public inquest to look into the killing.

Omar and Kibet were to explain to the court where the ammunition assigned to them are.

Resident magistrate Beryl Omollo granted prosecutor Mokaya Nyakundi’s request for an adjournment, after he explained that the two were held up.

The next hearing will be on October 4 and 5.

The issue of the officers’ ammunition came up after the Arms Movement Book produced in court indicated that they never return them.

An Operation Order produced in court showed that the two were deployed in Sector One (Nyalenda-Tumaini area) - the place where Pendo’s assault happened.

Last week senior superintendent Titus Mutune, who was in charge of all the officers deployed in the region, said some officers failed to return their arms.

He said however the matter could be better explained by the officers who gave them out and recorded them. Mutune told the court that the officers were assigned riot batons, tear gas and guns.

Law Society of Kenya, Kisumu Chapter lawyer Richard Onsongo asked Mutune why the officers failed to account for the weapons. He petitioned to have the two officers summoned to explain this.

“A baton that is believed to have been left behind by officers who were in the compound that day Baby Pendo was assaulted is in this court as exhibit, hence, it’s of great importance for the two to appear before this court,” Onsongo said.

His request was granted by the magistrate, who said the two should appear before the court on Friday to shed more light on the matter.

During his cross-examination, Mutune denied that Pendo was assaulted by a GSU officer. He said the officers were operating under a commander who could not allow such an incident to happen under his watch.

The Independent Policing Oversight Authority last year carried out a probe into Pendo’s death and recommended disciplinary proceedings against four senior 

officers for negligence.

“...and particularly for failing to coordinate the police operation in question, thereby making it difficult for the identity of the police officers who committed criminal acts to be known and ultimately impending IPOA’s investigation,” read the report presented to the DPP. 

A report released by the Kenya National Human Rights Commission last October showed seven children were among 37 people killed by police officers three days after the August 8 election.

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