ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! – KENYA MUST END POLICE BRUTALITY & BULLYING NOW!

 

Last week’s assault of Nairobi City County Mlango Kubwa  MCA Patricial Mutheu Musyimi by a contingent of uniformed police MEN, as repugnant and shocking as it was and despite the outrage that ensued, was not a surprise to many Kenyans nor was it just an aberration, no – it the epitome of a deeply embedded police brutality culture and custom that has been normalized as a “way of life” in Kenya that routinely abuses and bullies harmless and vulnerable civilians without end in sight. Just a quick rendition of what we witnessed, a peaceful, un-armed Ms. Musyimi was seated at the City Hall pavilion alone, not bothering anyone or resisting any law enforcement and out of nowhere a contingent of armed policemen, about 5 in total, pounced on her and pummeled her mercilessly with batons. Let that sink in, policemen, (emphasis on MEN) unprovoked and unannounced, assaulted, and inflicted serious bodily harm on the woman who by all accounts was minding her own business. As it turns out the brutal assault exacerbated her medical condition as she was recovering from a medical surgery. The images are explicit and speak for themselves. Kenya’s Police has a singularly dubious notoriety of entrenched institutional ineptitude, abuse and brutality that transcends successive governments since independence, it is getting worse and even as the leaders feign outrage and promise action to fix the rot in the force, Kenyans are not convinced change will happen anytime soon. It is the typical kneejerk reaction we are all accustomed to, only active once these incidents are caught on camera and dissipate quickly, of course until the next abuse is caught on camera.

Just to put this in context, juxtapose this police brutality with Kenya’s recent election as a member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Last month, with a lot of fan-fare Kenya celebrated its election to the UNSC for a two-year membership. The Security Council’s role is to ensure global security and to safeguard the safety of humanity. This responsibility starts at home for member countries but going by Kenya’s own legendary record of police brutality, clearly, she has earned herself a FAILING grade, not exactly the role model and image deserving of a seat at the UNSC. To those of us living outside Kenya who are trying so hard to be Kenya’s best ambassadors and advocacy on behalf of our country to drive capital flows and investments to Kenya we are at a severe disadvantage and loss in convincing would be investors to do business in a country with such a tattered image, especially when we ourselves as the Diaspora also suffer from the very police abuse. The optics of lawlessness by the Police is particularly pernicious to the country already on a downward economic spiral.

Something is terribly awry; whether it is failed leadership, lack of proper training, incompetency, apathy, or a combination thereof, Kenya’s security apparatus have deteriorated to unsustainable lows. A complete overhaul including training and retraining of the entire force is necessary to achieve a paradigm shift in policing in Kenya. Whereas most policemen and women are fine officers who do their jobs honorably, there are enough rogue officers within the ranks that taint the entire force. What we witnessed was nothing short of BULLIES IN UNIFORM with willful disregard of the rule of law acting as the law unto themselves.  

CS MATIANG’I RESPONSE UNSATISFACTORY

The government is known for its kneejerk reactions when these abuses end up in the media but make no mistake about it, it is just as culpable as it is complicit in their commission. Its failure to address this problem that has permeated, persisted and metastasized in the country just as its twin Corruption can only be summed as dereliction of duty and failed leadership, pure and simple. In this particular incident Interior CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i responded to the assault on the MCA with a tepidly; he punted and called or should I say appealed to the police to treat fellow Kenyans “humanely” and hinted that he and the Inspector general of Police (IG) and the Chair of The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) agreed on some action, he did not tell Kenyans what specific action(s) he is taking against those specific officers who assaulted the MCA, it would have helped mollify Kenyans somewhat. A swift and stern action just as public as the assault itself would have been helpful if only as a deterrent against other bullies in the force; the only solace we have is from the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji who ordered investigations into the incident. Kenyans are apprehensive that this will soon morph into and be treated as business as usual once the public outrage dissipates, it has already. Kenyans have a very short memory. As for CS Matiang’i, touted as a super CS in charge of coordinating government operations across ministries, I say the rot in the police force severely undercuts his standing as a super performer because these incidents are just too many and affect too many Kenyans including those outside the country including myself as narrated elsewhere in rendition.  Some police violations are committed right under his nose at his doorstep and nothing is being done about it. So it is obvious the situation is indeed out of control. My point is not to pile on CS Matiang’i, not at all,  I am cognizant of the fact that he has a lot on his plate, perhaps too much but at the end of the day too many Kenyans are suffering needlessly at the hands of the Police and it is only getting worse from where I stand. In other countries such as the US civilians take to the streets and force governments to change policies, for example the George Floyd murder by the Police in Minnesota, US ignited a national movement for police reforms, that is taking effect as we speak. Not so much in Kenya, Kenyans are too vulnerable, too timid, and too afraid to speak up, they rather suffer in silence than risk the wrath of the police and so we all suffer. This MUST end!

TWO-TIERED SYSTEM OF JUSTICE

There is no question that Kenya operates on a two-tiered justice system the police are keenly of and exploit to the fullest. One is for the political class and the wealth and the other is for everyone else. As recent as two weeks ago for example, on or around July 25, Isaac Kibet and Emanuel Kimutai were arrested and charged for publishing rumors claiming that Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i was seriously ill from COVID and was admitted at a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The speed and swiftness with which the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to arrest and charge the “suspects” for rumormongering was breathtaking. Two days ago, on or around August 01, the DCI arrested and charged Edgar Obare, a video blogger, for publishing “private information” belonging to a Natalie Wanjiru Githinji without her consent. The information Obare is accused of publishing linked the complainant to Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho. The DCI tracked Mr. Obare about two hundred miles away in the lakeside town of Kisumu and brought him back to the capital Nairobi to be charged. These are considered low priority process crimes and frankly civil in nature but because they touched on the political class, police acted swiftly, and this is commonplace in Kenya. Now here is the flipside that I am personally privy to because this happened to me. About two years ago and as recent as last week, multiple crimes, including theft, assaults, forgeries, fraud upon the court in Nyamira County, were committed and were all reported to the Police. Not only have the police brazenly refused to take any meaningful action for the crimes reported to them but actively tried to cover them up with threats and intimidation. Being in the Diaspora is an added handicap despite the enormous good we in the Diaspora do for our country. The police and the criminals work in cahoots to frustrate justice and it hasn’t made any difference what protocols, procedures or chain of command one follows, I have followed every conceivable chain of command, they mock you instead of helping. This is not isolated but the norm. The inequality of delivery of justice in Kenya is regrettably, very distinctive.

 

Nyaronde Police harassing my construction crew at my home!

Diaspora not spared police abuse – Make no mistake about this, Kenyans in the Diaspora are not spared the police abuse. Many are suffering silently and have no recourse avenues or fear retaliation against their families back home. I couldn’t believe some of the many sad stories of police abuse and extortions of Kenyans in the Diaspora by Kenya Police but that all changed when, as recounted above,  I personally suffered the same fate and still continue to, it truly changes one’s perspective about the Kenyan Police and breeds anger and resentment toward them. It is not enough that Kenyans in the Diaspora are literary and figuratively marginalized, but we also must endure abuse from those charged with protecting our interests. Our investments are not secure as we are made to believe nor are our staff and yet the government expects the Diaspora to pump capital investments into the country. Many of our fellow Diaspora suffer in silence and have absolutely no recourse mechanism to have their grievances redressed. Therefore I speak from a point of personal experience and my case is particularly unnerving because it is happening in CS Dr. Fred Matiang’i’s neighborhood at Borabu in Nyamira County, right under his nose and suffice it say it is abhorrent, blatantly abusive, consists of threats to victims, police sponsored and sanctioned assaults, cover-ups of crimes and shielding criminals from justice, blocking junior officers from investigating crimes, forgeries and fraud perpetrated on the courts, suppression of witnesses and evidence, just to mention a few. Even when proper protocols are followed and the crimes up the command chain through the entire police command structure, nothing happens. Instead they protect and cover for each other; they literary turn against you. For two years now it has been a wild goose chase and cat and mouse games with the police, endless runarounds designed to frustrate, protect and shield the criminals and to show who is “BOSS”.  This is CS Matiang’i’s neighborhood, right under his nose. I’m not trying to pile on the CS but to put things in perspective, if it’s happening to in the CS for interior’s own neighborhood, what do you think is happening in the rest of the country? In my case the local Officer Commanding Station (OCS) at Nyaronde has literary arrogated himself the role of administrator of my late father’s estate. He openly and blatantly flaunts his police authority in meddling with my estate, he even routinely sends police there using taxpayer resources and equipment, manpower and police vehicles to intimidate and harass my crew in my own home; as recent as two weeks ago he charged them with trespassing. Think about that just a moment! Just last week I am reliably informed that they have a hand in the assault of one of my staff and even when reported they go out of their way to suppress and cover up crimes; superiors ignore when these crimes are reported to them or deflect to others, in other instances they just look the other way and consider you a nuisance. You are actually better off on the criminal lane, better yet without the police if only you can get refrain them from their meddling. This is not an isolated case but widespread across the Diaspora in various manifestations.

 

OTHER NOTABLE INCIDENTS OF POLICE BRUTALITY

COVID19 Assaults on Civilians – Just a few months, literary moments after President Kenyatta’s a countrywide dusk to dawn curfew in response to COVID19 pandemic took effect, Kenya Police were caught on Camera assaulting civilians trying to beat the curfew. They were such despicable scenes that the public outrage compelled Kenyatta to publicly apologize for Police brutality meted on innocent civilians simply trying to comply with his directive. As it turned out, the curfew failed miserably, Kenya now has exponentially more cases of COVID19 than it did at the time the curfew went into effect, by the thousands and getting worse. And the police assaults were not just bad but also in vain as they didn’t achieve any of Kenyatta’s objectives. At one point during the this pandemic it was reported that Kenyan Police have caused more fatalities and injuries to Kenyans than the pandemic itself, a classic case of the cure being worse than ailment.

Policeman Rashid Ahmed executing a suspect in Eastleigh, Nairobi

Extra-Judicial Executions – In yet another widely circulated incident that exposed Kenya Police’s culture of brutality and impunity, a policeman was caught on camera executing suspected criminals in broad daylight in front of a crowd. Police officer Ahmed Rashid, also known as “Hesi wa Kayole” is caught on camera shooting in the head, multiple times, an already subdued man on the street and of course killing him. Mr. Rashid has a reputation for multiple summary executions with the full knowledge and approval of his superiors. Rashid, like all cops, was duty-bound to arrest and book the suspects for whatever crimes they allegedly committed but no, that was not lawful enough. He is the law unto himself you see and so he opted to publicly execute the guy, not one shot but five, he needed to make sure he was dead you know, so pumped five shots at least to his head. He had to make the point that he’s the boss, he had the power to take life at will and no repercussions would follow him and that’s exactly what happened to him, NOTHING!  I mean as diabolical and sad as it is, this is Kenya’s record and it is time the country atoned and made amends.