Lodging a complaint with the Ombudsman or the Independent Policing Oversight Authority is the easy part.
But the family of 93-year-old Njeri Kiriba says anything else after that is akin to trying to milk an elephant.
Kiriba was allegedly assaulted by policemen from Kasarani over a land tussle in 2015 and forced to sign unknown property documents the same day.
Her son, 52-year-old John Gachau, rushed to IPOA and the Ombudsman – mandated to be defenders of the poor – for help.
But the two institutions have been trading blame, occasionally issuing summonses to the Kasarani OCPD and nothing more.
“I act on behalf of my mother, who was strangled by Githurai 44 chief and some police officers from Kasarani in February 2015. She nearly died. But I have sent more than 15 letters to both IPOA and Ombudsman but nothing happens,” Gachau says. Their lives are in danger because of constant threats by the local administration and the police.
IPOA referred the complaint to the National Police Service’s internal affairs unit on July 28, 2015. Director of complaints management James Olola asked the unit to investigate and make a report within three months. The NPS never responded.
IPOA made follow ups through four letters over the next three years without a response.
“The authority notes that it has taken inordinately long in receiving your investigation report to enable us to advise the complainant,” says IPOA’s D.M. Watila in the last letter dated July last year.
On the other hand, the ombudsman accuses the Kasarani OCPD of flatly refusing too cooperate.
The office has sent about five letters since 2017 and the last ‘ultimatum’ in October last year, with no response.
The OCPD was expected to investigate the complaint and file a report with the Ombudsman, also known as the Commission on Administrative Justice.
“We are concerned by the lack of response from your office in regards to this matter owing to the fact that nearly nine months have lapsed since the matter was brought to your attention,” the commission’s Edward Okello wrote to the OCPD.
He gave a seven-day ultimatum but never received any response.
The Constitution gives the ombudsman power to carry out investigations in the same way police do.
When he quit as Ombudsman, lawyer Otiende Amolo complained of lack of cooperation from some government institutions. “There are a number of senior police officers that have still not appreciated the work of the commission. The Department of Defence has also tended to be obtrusive when complaints are lodged against it,” he said in November 2016.
However, justice through the courts was swifter.
In 2016, Njeri sued Kenya Ihenya Company, seeking to restrain it from harassing her or trespassing on her two plots in Githurai 44.
High Court judge Kossy Bor last November 2017 ruled in favour of Njeri, directing she be given both plots. The company has appealed.