EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS

Trigger-happy Mombasa cops even shoot at football fans

Nothing has been done by the authorities to bring the responsible officers to account.

In Summary

• In 2018, seven-year-old Fatuma was shot in the leg in Kisauni, Mombasa, by police who claimed they were shooting in the air to disperse a crowd. One wonders whether Fatuma was flying.

• In 2018, a house caretaker was shot in the leg in Utange, Mombasa, by officers who claimed they mistook him for a robber.

Family members of victims of extrajudicial killings and human rights activists Haki Africa march peacefully to the Central police station in Mombasa to present their grievances,
TRIGER-HAPPY COPS: Family members of victims of extrajudicial killings and human rights activists Haki Africa march peacefully to the Central police station in Mombasa to present their grievances,
Image: FILE

Last weekend, 60-year-old Suleiman Juma left his home in Ujamaa, Likoni, Mombasa county, headed to Consolata grounds to watch a football match.

After an entertaining and hotly contested game, supporters of both teams, as expected, were taunting each other about the results, which led to some overzealous supporters becoming rowdy.

The youth started shouting at each other and calling each other names. With the crowds turning rowdy, police were called in to restore calm and disperse the crowd peacefully.

To the shock and dismay of everyone in the area, without notice or warning, the police began shooting at the crowds! Naturally, all took to their heels and it was helter-skelter as everyone tried to find a safe corner to run to or hide. Young and old, women and men alike, ran for dear life. In the wake of the melee, it emerged that at least two people were shot and many others injured in the stampede that followed. From an entertaining football match to promote local talents among the youth, gunshots, injuries and damages were the results.

Why did the police have to shoot at a group of football fans? Across the world, sports are associated with charged-up crowds taunting each other and displaying a passion for their teams. In Europe for example, fans even take to the streets and physically fight and throw objects at each other. However, the police response is not shooting at the fans but to simply dispersing them. Even in Kenya in places such as Nairobi, when fans get rowdy, they are not shot at. However, in Mombasa, trigger-happy police shoot even at sports crowds.

Mombasa is a clear case in which rogue police officers operate with impunity and have no regard for human life. They kill without hesitation at the slightest excuse. They are trigger-happy and believe the bullet is the solution to all problems. There are groups of uncouth Mombasa police who can be described as bloodthirsty and who operate with a clear intent to kill at the slightest opportunity. They offer no security but on the contrary, they are a danger to society. Many are their victims who died or were shot at needlessly.

Mzee Suleiman survived with a bullet wound in his shoulder, while Amani Chirima Mwingo, 28,  is nursing a neck injury at the Coast General Hospital following the shooting. There are, however, other incidences that point to trigger-happy officers in Mombasa. In 2018, seven-year-old Fatuma was shot in the leg in Kisauni, Mombasa by police who claimed they were shooting in the air to disperse a crowd. One wonders whether Fatuma was flying.

In 2018, a house caretaker was shot in the leg in Utange, Mombasa, by officers who claimed they mistook him for a robber. Again in 2019, 42-year-old matatu tout Kituku Kilonzo was shot dead in Mikindani, Mombasa, by cops who were on the trail of a gangster. Upon realising their mistake, they quickly changed the narrative and claimed Kituku was also a wanted criminal.

However, when Katuku’s family and colleagues came out to present evidence of his innocence, the police failed to confirm their criminal claim and merely ignored the family and colleagues.

Despite the above clear cases of police shootings of innocent Mombasa residents, nothing has been done by the authorities to bring the responsible officers to account. It is this impunity that emboldens the police to become trigger-happy and continue their violence against residents. If anything, the authorities are always quick to defend the irresponsible actions of their juniors and cover up for them. As a result, more innocent Mombasans will continue to lose their lives and/or get injured.

While we appreciate that Mombasa presents a challenge to security forces owing to the complexity of issues that intertwine crime, drug abuse, violent extremism among others, the police have a cardinal rule to ensure the sanctity of life is respected.

Mombasa residents are tired of trigger-happy police.