When Covid-19 first hit Kenya in March 2020, Kenyans were terrified. It was like a death sentence. Having ravaged Italy, people knew what the virus would do to a poor and corrupt country like Kenya.
So far, millions of businesses have shut down. Millions of Kenyans have lost their jobs. More than 60 percent are unable to pay their rent. There is hopelessness all over the country, especially in major urban centers.
The people are now more scared than never before. As the days snail by, so the increase in Covid-19 infections. The rate of confirmed cases in slowly moving out, through the roof with no clear plan of how to tame it.
When the virus hit, most governments in Africa imposed lockdowns. The lockdowns were meant to restrict the movement of people in an effort to cut down on the spread of the pandemic.
In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta first announced a curfew that ran from 7 pm to 5 am. The curfew guidelines were then reviewed to run from 9 pm to 5 pm.
The President of Kenya also imposed cessation of movement in and out of at least four counties including Mombasa and Nairobi. The cessation of movement for both Mombasa and Nairobi is still on as the nation awaits a review on July 7, 2020.
Running Away From Two Pandemics
The announcement of a curfew by President Uhuru Kenyatta never came as a blessing to the majority of Kenyans. It actually came as a twin tragedy. Kenyans have since been running away from two pandemics; Covid-19 and the Kenyan police.
Cases of police brutality have been on a steep rise, with some carried out in broad daylight, captured on camera and shared across the social media platforms. The protests, the cries for justice, and empty promises from the police forces seem to be doing nothing but cheering the rogue officers on.
On Monday, the latest victim was captured on video being mercilessly clobbered by police officers who had been deployed to disrupt a meeting by Starehe Member of Parliament Charles Kanyi (Aka Jaguar). The MP was arrested.
The man in the video is seen been clobbered by around 5 police officers. They then force him to stand as they continue beating him. The man struggles to stand, his head broken and blood oozing from all over. His legs give way and he falls in sewage as the same police stand and laugh.
— TheStarKenya (@TheStarKenya) June 29, 2020
The recent case where three people were shot dead in Lessos, Nandi County is still fresh in the mind of many. A police officer first shot dead a cobbler, a man living with a disability for failing to wear a mask. Can you imagine that?
The killing of the cobbler prompted residents of Lessos to take to the streets, demanding for justice. In the commotion, two more people were shot dead. All the police officers in Lessos have since been transferred as the families of the victims are left to bury their kins in poverty and wait for justice that might never come.
Distressed Lessos Families:
Families prepare for burials of the 3 people shot dead by police
Lessos residents clashed with police after a clobber was killed
IG Mutyambai has ordered for the transfer of all officers in Lessos#CitizenWeekend@VickyRubadiri pic.twitter.com/eY07rAKx11
— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) June 27, 2020
Do you still remember the case of a police officer who tired a woman at the back of a motorbike, accusing her of stealing, rode the motorbike while dragging her on the ground until her hands and legs broke?
What about the case of that homeless man who was shot dead in Mathare for “being outside” during curfew hours? Was any police officer held accountable for that murder? No.
What about that case of a form two girl living with disability who was shot last week at Pangani? She is currently receiving treatment at Gurunanak Hospital. Anybody arrested for that attempted murder? Nobody as I write this.
At Least 19 Dead
According to the ongoing investigations by the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), the police in Kenya have killed at least 19 people since the curfew was imposed. More than 30 others have been left with injuries. There are fears that many cases go unreported.
Kenyan police have become more ruthless than their Ugandan counterparts. In Uganda, the police have killed six people so far in trying to impose the curfew.
In Ethiopia, a country with more than 100 million people, only three have been killed. In Rwanda, only one confirmed death has been reported.
In terms of police brutality and the killing of people during the curfew, Kenya is in the same league as Nigeria and South Africa. In South Africa, at least 20 people have been killed. It is the same in Nigeria where security officers have been accused of killing at least 19.
The Kenyan police are becoming extremely dangerous, daring, and carrying out their executions without any fear. Currently, they are second-most dangerous after Covid-19. Armed robbers come in third after you remove the politicians.
Inspector of Police Hillary Mutyambai vowed to instill discipline among “his boys”. He said any officer caught breaking the law would be dismissed and prosecuted. He called on Kenyans to record every misbehaving officer on video and forward it to him.
I should warn you. Recording a Kenyan police officer is the same as suicide or death by firing squad. You will be killed and the same police officers will be deployed to investigate. Record them if you know you won’t be noticed, or else, you will be part of the statistic.
Where then should Kenyans seek justice against the police who are angry and hungry for blood? From IPOA? Not a chance. Why? IPOA has thousands of cases of police brutality. So far, only six have been prosecuted.
To avoid being killed by a Kenyan police officer, try doing the following:
Do not provoke them. They have the right to walk around with guns and they are easily agitated.
When arrested, talk to them in a language that they understand. The majority of them hate people who use English why addressing them. They will think you are mocking them. Bottom line is, do not outsmart them.
Avoid being on the frontline of protests. If you must protest, be in the middle, or at a position you can run as soon as trigger-happy police officers arrive.
Trust your legs. Learn to run faster than a police officer. They hate people who run. They will shoot you in the back. If you must run, run with whatever you got.