1,133 is not just a number

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Profiles in injury

11 March 2019 - 11:03

By Sarah Nyakio and Susan Kendi

Mary was 27 years was shot while at El Shaddai Shopping Centre on December 28, 2007 damaging her jaw. The mother of one was walking home to her one-roomed mud-walled house in Kisumu’s Manyatta slum when she heard a loud bang and numbness all over her body. She fell down, lost consciousness and remained in a coma for two weeks.

Mary, who had been working as a security guard at Kisumu Polytechnic at the time, later regained consciousness and found herself at New Nyanza Hospital, Kisumu. After six weeks’ stay at the hospital, she was discharged in February 2008 on condition that she attends the referral Kenyatta National Hospital for specialized treatment. As she left the New Nyanza Hospital, she was temporarily dumb as the bullet had damaged her jawbone and disfigured her face.

Although Mary escaped death, putting her life together is still a daunting task. After losing her job, she realised she could not afford her livelihood any more and moved in with her sister.

Due to the damage the bullet had inflicted on her nerves, Mary also has poor eyesight and experiences frequent severe headaches. She is one of the 13 victims who have petitioned the High Court to take action on.

Mary hopes that the petition filed before the High Court in Kisumu will grant her the justice she has pursued for 11 years.

CRIPPLED

John 47, a father of four, was walking home from watching updates of 2007 presidential election on public television when he was shot on December 31, 2007. He had used a shortcut to get home quickly after hearing gunshots in the distance.

“Suddenly I felt numbness on my right leg and I could barely walk,” John said. He continues to narrate that the four police officers approached him and he could hear them blaming one of them for shooting an unarmed civilian.

“One of them cut the sleeve of my shirt and tied my leg to control the bleeding since I was bleeding profusely. They took me to the hospital and left one of the officers, who asked the nurses to attend to me, and that he would come back to check on me later. He never came back,” John adds.

John was discharged from St Joseph Mission Hospital on February 18, 2008, and transferred to Tenwek Mission Hospital where he was supposed to get an artificial plate to support his right leg. Unfortunately, the hospital confirmed his bone was rotten and the lower part of his right leg urgently needed to be amputated. He was then discharged from the hospital in March.

“I reported the matter to Migori Police Station on June 26, 2008, and after hours of waiting the police gave me an OB number,” he narrates.

“Despite the many visits to the police station the officers did not help me,” John told JFJ. He was tired of following up until he heard of Citizens Against Violence (CAVI), an organisation that helped him and 12 others to file a petition at the High Court.

John observes that his life has drastically changed since he was shot. His wife left him with their four children because he cannot feed not provide for them.

“I am a cripple now, and I cannot do simple tasks. I had to sell my plot of land to pay for the medical bills,” he says.

John explains that he was left with the permanent misery of walking using crutches that hurt his limbs.

However, John is hopeful that the judgment will be passed in their favour (victims) and that other victims of police shootings will find justice.

THE AGONY OF LOSING A CHILD

Paul lost his youngest daughter Linda 26, during the post-2007 election crisis through police shooting in Kisumu on December 31, 2007. His daughter succumbed to a bullet that went through the door to their house. Paul was told about the death of his daughter by his fiancée.

“After the death of my daughter, I came to Kisumu to collect her belongings. I saw the hole where the bullet went through to my daughter’s breast,” he said.

Paul also had a post mortem examination conducted on his daughter, from which he says the hospital declined to give him a report.

“However, the death certificate confirms that she died of a haemorrhage due to a gunshot wound,” he said. Paul also confessed of reporting the issue at Central Police, Kisumu but complains that the records read that it was opened in Maseno, a place he has never visited.

WIDOWED

Jane was widowed when she lost her husband Peter on December 30, 2007. Peter succumbed to a gunshot wound on the left side of his chest. He was killed while on his way to work, in a kiosk they owned at Western junction, Kisumu.

She rushed to the scene only to find a pool of blood. Her husband’s body had been taken to a mortuary. Jane confirms that the post mortem report revealed her husband’s death was as a result of a gunshot wound.

Peter was the family breadwinner and his death brought Jane to misery.

I cannot afford school fees for my children and my brother-in-law took away the kiosk,” the mother of two says.

Some 1,133 people lost their lives in the post-2007 election crisis. A decade later, thousands of Kenyans still bear scars of what happened to them, their family members and friends. 

Irrespective of a case being filed against security agencies there has been no conviction only the prosecution of one police officer, Edward Kirui who was charged with shooting Tanzanian Ismail Chacha and William Onyango during demonstrations at Kondele in Kisumu on January 16, 2008.

Years down the line, victims are still seeking justice Petition 8 of 2014 is one of the cases filed seeking to compel the government of Kenya to address the police shootings that were part of the 2007/2008 post-election violence in the former Nyanza Province.

According to the Waki Commission report, in Nyanza, out of a total of 134 deaths, 107 were as a result of gunshots.

“It appears that police in different provinces did not respond uniformly with regard to the use of force, even when faced with a similar situation.”

Most of the victims were hesitant of sharing their personal stories complaining that they are “exhausted” of sharing their encounters for they have previously done so and nothing has changed.

SCARRED

Names have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of victims

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