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October 19, 2018

HAKI: End mob ‘justice’ in Mombasa

Mob justice/Eliud Kibii
Mob justice/Eliud Kibii

In the last one week, Mombasa has reported at least four cases of mob lynching of suspects.

The incidences were reported to have happened in broad daylight, as the public descended on suspects believed to be members of criminal gangs operating within Mombasa estates.

Two of those killed were stoned to death, while one was burnt beyond recognition.

The fourth suspect is believed to have suffered fatal injuries caused by blunt objects.

In reporting these cases, the police and the public referred to them as mob “justice”.

However, in the case of Mombasa, it’s neither mob-driven nor is it justice. It is vigilante groups targeting specific individuals and executing the heinous crime of murder in the name of “justice”.

The actions can only be equated to unruly, irresponsible and reckless actions of a few individuals in society bent on flagrantly violating the fundamental right to life guaranteed by the Constitution of Kenya.

In one of the incidences, the victim was a KCSE candidate, who had just left his home to go for tuition.

According to the mother, soon after the son left, she received a call from a neighbour, informing her that her son was being attacked by a mob.

She rushed outside only to find a vigilante group administering a thorough beating on her son and his friend.

The mother says the vigilante group tied a rope round his son’s neck and dragged him to their office.

Her pleads to the would-be murderers to spare her son fell on deaf ears, as they proceeded with their actions to kill.

Her son died as she watched, in dismay and disbelief. It is the worst thing a mother could experience.

Article 50(2)(a) of the Constitution provides: “Every accused person has the right to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved”.

The key message for all to remember is that it is only the court that can declare a person guilty. Not the public, not the police.

The killing of any person outside the confines of the law is illegal, murderous and unjustifiable.

It is crucial that citizens be warned against taking the law into their hands.

The lynching of suspects is not “mob justice” but rather “mob injustice”.

We cannot have a situation where the public become the juror and executioners thus denying suspects their right to a fair trial.

Proving guilt can never be done in the streets or police stations by vigilante groups or police death squads.

Increased number of mob lynching is also an indication there is a breakdown of law and order.

It is an indictment of the police, who are supposed to be the custodians of constabulary.

When the people lose faith in the police and the justice system, they resort to other crude and unconventional means in search of that justice.

When the mob, therefore, resorts to taking matters into their own hands, it means they have lost all trust and conviction in the security authorities.

In such a case, the police and others working in tandem with them have no moral authority or credibility before the citizens.

However, in the case of Mombasa, it is not the mob that actually attacks and kills suspects: It is vigilante groups, as was reported in the case of the KCSE candidate.

Members of the vigilante groups can be identified and pin pointed to the authorities for arrest and prosecution for murder.

Haki Africa has received complaints from families of victims and the public in general of the unfolding situation of increased mob lynching.

It is paramount that the police immediately initiate investigations into the recent cases and bring the culprits to book.

No individual or members of vigilante groups, for that matter, should be allowed to kill any person out of suspicion.

Whether it’s the police or the public, they should arrest suspects and present them to court for legal processing.

Haki Africa, therefore, demands that the police arrest the situation by initiating investigations to ascertain the individuals behind the lynching, and ensure they are arrested and charged with murder.

Kenya has laws and it is the duty of the police to ensure they are followed to the letter.

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