BRUTAL ENFORCEMENT

Anger as Kisumu askaris drag woman on tarmac

Video shows the askaris rushing the terrified and screaming hawker to Central police station.

In Summary
  • Beatrice Atieno, 39, was left with injuries after the incident that was shared widely on social media.
  • Shocked boda boda operators and other people are seen screaming after the vehicle.
Beatrice Atieno outside Kisumu Central police station
Image: FAITH MATETE
Beatrice Atieno being dragged on a speeding vehicle along the kisumu streets.
Image: HANDOUT

Shock and anger erupted in Kisumu and around the country yesterday after county askaris were filmed dragging a woman on the tarmac in a speeding vehicle.

The video shows the askaris rushing the terrified and screaming hawker to Central police station.

Shocked boda boda operators and other people are seen screaming after the vehicle.

Beatrice Atieno, 39, was left with injuries after the incident that was shared widely on social media.

She reported the matter at Kisumu Central police station OB No.35/24/03/21.

The widow and mother of four who lives in Rabuor and runs a stall at the Kisumu stage but it was demolished by county askaris. She resorted to hawking to feed her children.

Yesterday morning while hawking around the county hospital, city askaris jumped out of their vehicle and surrounded her.

"I was shocked to see the county askaris surround me as others tried to take away goods from my head. Another held my hand while another was pushing into the vehicle. The vehicle was moving and they sped off with me from hospital area to the station," she said.

Atieno's son who followed up the matter was arrested and locked up, she said. It was not the first time she was roughed up.

Kisumu residents condemned the incident, saying they had witnessed at least four such cases in less than a month.

Kisumu Residents Association chairman Audi Ogada said it was unfortunate and asked Governor Nyang Nyong'o to end the notoriety of the askaris.

He said Nyong'o should ensure that all his officers discharge their duties professionally and in accordance with the law.

"The inhumanity being displayed by the the city askaris might soon result in the public ganging up against them if they are not regulated and controlled," Ogada said.

He said disciplinary action should be taken against the culprits. 

Officials from the city manager's office later met Atieno and allocated her a stall at Chichwa market.

"This is not a solution to the whole issues. We want action and we will demand for one," Ogada told the Star.

On Facebook and Twitter, Kenyans condemned the incident, calling for immediate action against the city askaris.

Victor Ayoki posted on his Facebook wall: "After killing tens of thousands of livelihoods, they are killing our mothers who sell omena to try and make ends meet".

In a statement to the media, the county government condemned the incident, saying the image of the female hawker clinging to a moving pick-up while being dragged on the ground was unacceptable.

"The county government wishes to condemn in the strongest terms possible an incident in which a woman hawker was injured during an operation to clear hawkers from a section Kisumu town this morning," the county said in a statement.

It said it had ordered immediate investigations and was working with the police and eyewitness to establish the truth of what may have happened.

The county noted that whoever will be found to have been culpable will face harsh disciplinary action.

Preliminary investigation, the statement said, established that the city askaris were on routine duty to clear the streets of hawkers when they found a group of hawkers who were dispersed and ran away to avoid arrest.

"One of the hawkers who was selling lemons, however, allegedly refused to leave. She is said to have confronted the askaris who had confiscated her lemons and as the pick-up carrying askaris sped off, she tried to cling on it in bid to salvage her wares".

The government said as the woman tried to fight off the county officers, a group of boda boda riders joined the drama and started pelting the security officials with stones, forcing the driver who had been hit to speed off to safety as the woman refused to let go.

"As we investigate this incident, we want to appeal to our enforcement officers to have a human face while they go about their duties. Our enforcement officers must follow the law while clearing the city of hawkers," the statement said.

Edited by Henry Makori