A 10-year-old girl was among people killed after police moved in to quell protests staged by perceived opposition supporters against the re-election of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Standard Four pupil at Mathare Primary School, was said to have been playing with other children outside her parents’ home in Nairobi’s slum neighbourhood, Mathare North Area 2, when a bullet hit her chest and exited through the back.
The Nation team found the body with a bullet wound at the site before it was taken away by the police.
Her aunt, Ms Jane Misori, said the girl was playing on the balcony when she was shot. Her mother, too traumatised to speak, wailed as she watched over the body of her child, four hours after the 9 am incident.
“Look, she got shot in the chest. She was playing outside with other children. Outside, police were firing bullets and tear gas,” said Ms Misori as she showed our team bullet holes on the wall.
Her mother, Damacline Marube, said her daughter’s friend came running to the house and told her that her girl had fallen to the ground and was bleeding.
She rushed to the balcony and, on viewing her, noticed she was dead.
“We have just booked her at Chiromo mortuary,” she later told Nation.
This came as conflicting figures on the number of those said in the to have been dead or injured remained unclear in the country's post-election protests.
At a midday media briefing, acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i denied any protester had been killed and said police did not use live bullets or excessive force to quell disturbances. He also called for calm and inferred that victims could have been criminals taking advantage of the situation.
Since Friday night when Mr Kenyatta was declared President, incidents were reported in parts of Nairobi and western towns of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) claimed it had evidence of 24 deaths in election-related incidents since the August 8 voting day.
“We are concerned about the use of excessive force and we ask the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa), a civilian oversight body over the work of the police in Kenya, and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to investigate these killings with a view to bringing the culprits to book,” Ms Kagwiria Mbogori, KNCHR chairperson, told a press briefing yesterday.
KNCHR said their monitors reported 17 deaths in Nairobi, two in Siaya and Migori counties, one each in Homa Bay, and another in Kisumu.
The Multi-Sectoral Forum, a grouping of religious leaders drawn from various faiths, put the figure of the dead at 18.
At a press conference at Ufungamano House in Nairobi, the religious leaders said they were saddened by the deaths.
“We are appalled by the violence that has been witnessed in some parts of the country.
"We are very saddened by the report that up to 18 Kenyans are confirmed dead during the protests,” they said in a statement read to the press by Sheikh Ibrahim Lithome of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.
Asked if they were contradicting the government position on the matter, Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit said the group was not in a position to speak on behalf of the government but insisted their bishops had counted 18 bodies: Nine in Nairobi, five in Migori, two in Kisumu and Siaya, respectively.
“As a church we have our own network of people on the ground who have given us the information. People have called us whenever it has happened to inform us. We got this number from our people on the ground and some in the human rights movement,” Archbishop Ole Sapit said.
While condoling with those who have lost their kin, the group asked those who wish to engage in demonstrations to do so peacefully, but challenged the police and other security agencies to stop using excessive force when suppressing protests.
“Do not attack other people or destroy property. Do not provoke police because you are within your constitutional rights when you demonstrate peacefully,” Sheikh Lithome said.
At a separate press conference, the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) politicians accused police of using excessive force and asked their supporters to remain calm.
The police have not commented on the alleged deaths, and this paper could not independently verify the figures.
But records at the capital's public morgue, City Mortuary, seen by the Sunday Nation showed 12 bodies with bullet wounds had been taken there by police officers between Friday midnight and Saturday afternoon.
There was, however, no indication on whether these were related to the protests.
At the mortuary, a grieving Mr Nelson Juma alleged his son, 19-year-old Shady Omondi Juma, was shot three times by police on Friday as he walked from work. Mr Juma claimed the teenager was on his knees with his hands raised but was still shot at close range.
“He was working as a conductor in a Lucky-Baba Dogo Sacco matatu, public buses plying the outskirts of Nairobi, and was from work and on his way home. When he came face-to-face with the officers, he surrendered but he was shot three times: Through the chest, the stomach and one arm,” said Mr Juma, who claimed the killing happened in front of eye-witnesses.
“If he committed a crime, he should have been handcuffed and taken in. Why shoot to kill?” asked the grieving father.
A pastor at the SDA church Kawangware, a slum about 15 km west of Nairobi told Nation GSU officers battling protesters in the area had hurled three teargas canisters inside the church during Saturday’s service.
“It was about 11 am as I was preparing to start my service; I saw these GSU officers chasing people from Kawangware 56. I immediately told the members to shut the front door.
As one of them was passing by, he heard our members singing and peeped inside, broke the glass window using his rungu (police baton), and hurled three teargas canisters inside the church.
Luckily, there were no serious injuries,” the pastor told Nation.
At another morgue in the capital, Mbagathi mortuary, a source who sought anonymity said he saw some bodies with bullet wounds brought in on Friday night.
But security officers and an attendant at the facility Saturday denied the Sunday Nation entry, adding that no body had been taken to the facility.
At the country's largest public referral hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital Accidents and Emergency area, there were at least nine casualties nursing various bullet wounds awaiting admission.
They were brought by Kenya Red Cross ambulances and a prisons ambulance and nurses who spoke in confidence said the victims were among those brought from slum dwellings of Dandora, Kibera, Kayole, Babadogo and Mathare in Nairobi.
Others were said to have been admitted with others taken to the theatre. Security officials stopped our reporters from talking to the victims.
In various city estates, police fired in the air and lobbed tear gas canisters to disperse protesters.
In Nairobi’s Mathare Area 3, a city estate, Red Cross team leader Joe Mbalu said they attended to 23 people, most of who suffered “soft tissue injuries and broken bones”.
“For now, we do not have an exact figure. About three people have spinal injuries. Many have broken bones and soft tissue injuries. We had two epileptic cases. There are others who had respiratory problems and that can be explained by the tear gas,” he said.
In the western town Kisumu,Kenya's third largest city, at least three people died and scores were injured.
The three were shot on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon as police officers tried to quell demonstrations.
Police said one of the victims died in Maseno while two were killed in the city's Nyalenda slums. Security bosses fought back claims that at least 21 people were killed.
No live bullets
Nyanza Regional Commissioner Wilson Njega said police did not kill anybody since they did not use live bullets.
“I am not aware of any incident where police officers have used bullets. No live ammunition has been used so far,” he told the Sunday Nation.
The police in Kisumu also used air patrols to contain the youths in the established slum suburbs Nyalenda, Obunga, Manyatta, Kondele and Nyamasaria areas.
The officers, who have been engaging the rowdy youths in running battles for the third day, occasionally took long breaks from the scorching sun.
At the public hospital Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu, a patient said she was shot while washing utensils outside her house.
Mr Michael Odhiambo, another victim, said: “After I was shot, I struggled to get home before my neighbours called the Red Cross ambulance who brought me to the hospital.”
In another ward at the hospital, five men were nursing various injuries. One man had a bandaged thigh and claimed he was shot. Next to him was a man nursing a neck injury. He, too, said he was shot.
The protests have been widespread in Nyanza region, the perceived opposition Nasa stronghold whose candidate Raila odinga rejected the results.
At Ahero, a township on the Kisumu-Nairobi highway, Mr Njega said 25 kiosks were torched by angry protesters while a bus was set on fire in Kisumu West, adding to the pile of losses businesspeople have experienced since election day.
In Migori, Mr Victor Omondi, 30, and Mr Erick Owino, 29, were reported to have sustained gunshot wounds. An administrator at Oruba Hospital, Mr Mike Ochere, said the two were out of danger.
In Nairobi, politicians allied to the Nasa coalition accused police of brutality.
They included Senators-elect George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Fred Outa (Kisumu), and MPs-elect Otiende Amollo (Rarieda), Ken Okoth (Kibra), George Aladwa (Makadara), Ms Gladys Wanga (Homabay), Peter Kaluma (Homabay Town) and former nominated MP Oburu Odinga, who urged the government to refrain from using excessive force and respect the rights of Kenyans.
“The right to assemble in a peaceful demonstration is provided for in the constitution and, as we speak, it has not been suspended. Those who are displeased have a right to show it as long as they are not armed,” Mr Amollo said yesterday at a Nairobi hotel.
Mr Matiangi, the acting Interior Cabinet Secretary, however, denied the claims.
According to Mr Amollo, among the areas targeted by the police brutality include Kibra, Kawangware and Mathare informal settlements in Nairobi, and Nyanza region – Kisumu, Homabay, Siaya, Kisii and Nyamira.
A planned tour of the MPs to Kibra to urge their supporters to maintain calm aborted after the police lobbed their convoy with tears gas canisters.
Reports By Fred Mukinda, David Mwere, Silas Apollo, Collins Omulo, Elisha Otieno, Winnie Atieno , Sam Kiplagat, Faith Nyamai And Tom Oruko
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