Mothers demand justice for sons killed by police

Mama Victor's two sons were shot dead by police one afternoon in Mathare.

In Summary
  • Yasin Moyo, aged 13, was shot by police enforcing curfew in Kiamaiko, Huruma estate, on March 30.
  • The mothers say they know their sons will not be remembered or statues erected in their honour but they will not be silenced.

When someone knocked on her half-open door and waited to be let in she knew something was wrong.

Such visits were common in Mathare 4A where her family lived. What was unusual, however, was that the person who knocked, waited to be welcomed and actually got in.

It was August 9, 2017, at around 3pm, and Bena Buluma, or Mama Victor as she is commonly known, was at home when three boys came in.


“Many people knocked or shouted their message from the door. But when the three boys knocked, waited for me to welcome them and actually got in, I knew something serious was coming,” Buluma said.

What she did not expect, however, was the shattering news that his two sons who had left the house a few hours before had been killed.

"I didn’t understand what they meant when they said my sons had been felled by the police,’’ Mama Victor remembers.

"Why and how were they both killed? They had never had any run-ins with law enforcement”.

Bernard Odoyo, 25, and Victor Okoth, 22, were shot dead at different locations on the same day during 2017 protests against presidential election results.

Victor and three other people were shot dead by police who used maximum force to contain the demonstrators.

Buluma says a police officer in plainclothes shot her son in the chest, and when he did not die immediately, another group of policemen armed with clubs set upon him until he died.


Victor was shot at Number 10. His mother said the neighbours who were on their balconies watching the unfolding scene saw a man in a white shirt and a red Maasai shuka draped across his shoulders to hide his gun open fire on the demonstrators.

“They had trailed the demonstrators and, unfortunately, the bullet caught him. When he fell, another group immediately began hitting him so brutally that the people on the balconies started screaming. They then dragged him to a corner, undressed him and left with the clothes,” Buluma says.

Bernard, had gone to withdraw some cash from an M-Pesa shop for use in the house at around midday, leaving his 19-year-old wife cooking.

Buluma said the witnesses claimed Bernard dodged the first bullet by a whisker as police were running after demonstrators but unfortunately fell down.

“The police pumped a bullet right into his head and he died on the spot,” she said.

Buluma joined mothers and widows whose sons and husbands were either killed or injured by police in Nairobi slums to protest against police brutality.

“We want to understand why the police are killing our children. Are they not human? Our wounds cannot even heal because we wake up to new deaths everyday,” she said.

Protesters in Mathare slum, Nairobi, on August 14, 2017.
ANGER: Protesters in Mathare slum, Nairobi, on August 14, 2017.
Image: FILE

Joseph Kahara, 17, was shot dead by police officers at Mlango Kubwa in Pangani on May 27, 2014. According to his mother Milka Wanjiku, Kihara had left for Wakulima market to buy vegetables she sells but never returned.

He was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest.

Among the demonstrators was Hadija Hussein, whose son Yasin Moyo was shot by police enforcing curfew in Kiamaiko, Huruma estate, on March 30.

The 13-year-old boy was on the family's balcony when a bullet suddenly hit him. An officer is in custody over the killing awaiting prosecution.

Among other victims  said to have been killed by police is Brian Liuva Ondeko, a 23-year-old second-hand shoes dealer who was shot in Kawangware on August 21, 2014.

Ondeko had gone to Gikomba market to buy second-hand shoes that he sold. He returned home to Kawangware from Gikomba to have his lunch. He left shortly thereafter to deliver stock to a friend named Simon. He never returned home.

A postmortem carried out on August 29, 2014, indicates that he succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds to the head and the chest.

The mothers said they knew their sons would not be remembered or statues erected in their honour or streets named after them but they vowed not to be silenced.

Edited by Henry Makori