About one in eight of the 101 people killed by police in Nairobi County in the past nine months happened in Dandora, according to Nation Newsplex Deadly Force database, in a period when 180 people were killed by law enforcement officers nationally.
Deadly Force is the most comprehensive database on death from police encounters collected and collated from media stories that quote police crime reports, Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) reports, and reference records from human rights organisations.
Some 13 people had been killed by police in Dandora estate in Nairobi as at September 30 this year.
“When I had gone to see his body in the mortuary, the mortuary attendant said that it was too late and I would only be allowed to enter if they paid Sh500. I had Sh1,000 in my pocket so I gave her Sh500” she says.
The cases recorded in Dandora have translated into never-ending painful episodes that have defined the lives of many people in a dozen families.
However, a casual stroll around Dandora perfectly conceals this troubled underbelly, instead presenting one with the usual hustle and buzzle that characterise any working-class city residential area.
It is only at the Dandora Community Justice Centre where these controversial police killings, which families and residents can only talk about in hushed tones, are documented and openly discussed.
A visit by the Newsplex team coincides with a fresh report that a young man has just been picked up by the police. The urgency and seriousness with which the volunteer staff treat the case shows that they are too familiar with the script and are almost certain of how it will all end up.
As we talk with the families of some of the victims, we realise that this dramatic script is a common thread in many of the accounts.
“A matatu conductor who was with him last before his death received a phone call that he had been shot. His brother, on the other hand, had been told that he was arrested and so I urged him to rush and see what had happened to him since he was supposed to be going to work,” says the mother of 25-year-old Makasi (name changed to protect family from police reprisal), a matatu driver, who was gunned down in May this year, for allegedly attempting to steal a car together with two other men.
When Makasi was shot and killed by the police in May this year, his baby boy was barely a year old. His mother has had to let his widow return to her parents. “Now she does informal jobs here and there, so when things get hard, my sisters help her with money,” says the mother in law. The widow was too overcome with grief to speak during the interview.
His mother had gone through the worst since her son’s death. “When I had gone to see his body in the mortuary, the mortuary attendant said that it was too late and I would only be allowed to enter if they paid Sh500. I had Sh1,000 in my pocket so I gave her Sh500” she says.
Against this narrative of unarmed civilians dying in the hands of the police is a police record alleging that about four in five of the suspects gunned down in Nairobi were armed, and therefore posed threats to the police.
While the police and families of the victims have stuck to these two conflicting accounts, a 2014 audit by the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) revealed that in six police killings, one case has police shooting their victims from behind, suggesting that they were fleeing and therefore harmless.
Deadly Force captures killings by police, wrongful or justified. According to the National Police Service Act, an officer can use their firearm under such special circumstances as saving or protecting their life, protecting a life and property through justifiable use of force, and preventing a person charged with felony from escaping lawful custody or being assisted to do so.
As the standoff between the police and families of the bereaved persists, even more accusations pile up at the doorstep of the police. Speaking recently at the Dandora Community Justice Centre during the marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Mr Gacheke Gachini, coordinator at the Mathare Social Justice Centre, cited the police as potentially being a reliable source of firearms. “Where are these guns coming from? This could point to some collaboration between some members of the police force and criminals,” he said.
At the same event, Dandora Officer Commanding Police Station, Samin Athumani pledged to work with the community to address security issues in the area, but also cautioned that police would never shy away from dealing with criminals breaking the law.
The number of police killings in Nairobi declined by a fifth from 128 in 2017 to 101 this year as at the end of September. This was the first slump in the past four years.
If one of the reasons for the ongoing police reforms is to make the police accountable in their line of work, including the use of firearms, then failure to prove that these killings were justifiable only points to slow progress in the reforms.
“We are dealing with a police force that for the longest time has not been under any form of oversight. This has led to some resistance and non-cooperation from some factions,” says Dennis Oketch, head of communications at the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.
The families’ aguish transcends the loss of loved ones, as thereafter follows a journey few are willing to travel.
Whether their families consider them innocent or guilty of the crimes for which they were executed, the pain and suffering their death has visited upon those left behind has been profound, and many say the police should have not taken the law into their own hands.
“Even if someone is a thief, why would they kill young people when there are prisons? Why can’t they arrest them? I have no other son, and not expecting to give birth to another,” says a mother to a 21-year-old youth who was gunned down by the police in May, 2016 inside a church compound in Dandora, with his hands up in surrender.
All the families of the victims interviewed by Newsplex in Dandora said they are reluctant to seek justice, largely for lack of trust in the judicial system and fear of reprisals from the officers they accuse.
Generally, such has been the predicament faced by families of victims of police killings in Nairobi. In April this year, some Githurai estate residents took to the streets protesting the sentencing of police officer Titus Musila, alias Katitu, who was found guilty of shooting dead a man at close range three times during an operation in Githurai 45 in 2013.
Second to Dandora in the number of killings in Nairobi County was Umoja (nine killings), Buruburu and Kariobangi (eight killings each), and Kayole and Kitisuru with seven killings each.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.